CBO: Obamacare Premiums Will Increase Faster Than Private Plans

“Obamacare health insurance premiums will grow faster than either private policies or the federal government in coming years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. In a report released Monday, the CBO issued updated budget projections showing that “premiums for policies sold through the exchanges are expected to increase more rapidly than the underlying trend in spending” between 2016 and 2018. The CBO projects that the average premium for Obamacare policies will increase by 8.5 percent annually in those years, while federal spending is expected to grow by just below 5 percent per year over the same period. The report identifies two possible reasons for the projected increase: First, “reinsurance payments that the government makes to insurance plans whose enrollees incur particularly high costs for medical care will be phased out over the next two years,” which will force insurers to raise premiums to make up those costs. According to Investor’s Business Daily, “The White House delayed phasing out its three-year reinsurance program in 2014,” which have allowed insurers to collect reimbursements once a patient’s costs top $45,000 through 2015. Starting in 2016, though, “reinsurance won’t kick in until costs top $90,000 – something the IBD says “could add about 5 percent to premiums next year.” In addition, “plans initially offered through the exchanges appeared to have, in general, lower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers’ use of health care than do employment-based plans.” The CBO anticipates that, “many plans will not be able to sustain such low provider payment rates or such narrow networks over the next few years, placing upward pressure on exchange premiums.” In contrast, the CBO projects that, “private health insurance spending per enrollee will grow by an average of 4.3 percent per year over the 2014–2018 period,” which represents “a downward revision in such spending of roughly 5 percent in 2016,” compared to previous estimates…”


​The shrinking cost of Obamacare

“The projected costs of Obamacare are dropping. That’s the conclusion of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which forecasts that the federal health program will cost $142 billion, or 11 percent, less over the next decade than it had earlier projected. The agency cited two primary reasons for the lower-than-expected cost: a slower rise in health care premiums, and fewer than expected enrollees. Spending by private health insurers rose less in 2013 than in previous years, which the agency said was far below its own estimates. That, in turn, is leading to smaller increases in premiums, while slightly fewer people are expected to sign up via the exchanges than the CBO had earlier forecast. Given that critics have targeted the health care overhaul as unaffordable, the projection of lower spending could be seen as a positive for the law. Still, the projected reduction in spending only makes a slight dent in the overall cost, with the total outlay now pegged at $1.21 trillion over the next decade. That’s down from the CBO’s January estimate of $1.35 billion in costs. While that’s good news for Obamacare supporters, the law, also known as the Affordable Care Act, still facs several challenges. One significant threat is a case now being heard by the Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, which presents a challenge to the tax credits offered to consumers in 34 states who bought health insurance through federally run exchanges. The decision isn’t expected until this summer, but if the court opts to throw out the subsidies that make many Obamacare plans affordable for families, it could leave millions of households on the hook for paying full monthly premiums. About 87 percent of those who have signed up for coverage under the ACA are receiving a subsidy…”


CBO Downgrades Obamacare’s Enrollment And Subsidy Projections


Defining Obamacare ‘success’ down, one more time

“The latest trumpeting of Obamacare’s “success,” based on a new budgetary report, is an example of the low expectations we have come to have for government programs. Over the next decade, according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare will add $1.2 trillion to federal deficits. It will do this even though it raises taxes by more than $500 billion over that time — that $1.2 trillion figure is a net cost. And this is now being heralded as a success … why? Because Obamacare was supposed to be even more of a fiscal drag. The latest estimate shows the net effect on deficits will be $142 billion less than what the number-crunchers said in their previous forecast. Woo-hoo, right? Not really. This figure does not mean the law is saving us money; it means we are set to borrow only about 90 percent as much as we expected to borrow. We would still borrow more than $1.2 trillion to pay for 10 years of Obamacare. And more than two-thirds of the “savings” — a.k.a. the reduction of Obamacare borrowing from huge to not-quite-as-huge — can be attributed to the fact the latest estimate shows the law will cover 2 million fewer people than previously thought. And by “previously thought,” I mean all the way back in … January. If we compare the numbers in this estimate to the ones in CBO’s estimate after Obamacare became law in March 2010, the discrepancy is even larger. Back in March 2010, CBO estimated the effects on the uninsured population through 2019. Back then, CBO estimated there would 32 million more people with health insurance in 2019 than if Obamacare had not become law. In the new report, CBO says in 2019 that figure will be 24 million — a full one-quarter lower than the estimate five years ago. Now, to those 24 million people, this is no small feat. But in the big picture, when we compare Obamacare’s results to the way it was sold five years ago (remember when it was going to reduce deficits? good times, good times) the biggest change appears to be in the way its backers define “success.”


How Obamacare Extensions Could Hurt Taxpayers in the Long Run

“With yet another Obamacare enrollment extension for those who are discovering they’re being fined for not having insurance as they complete their 2014 taxes, an industry expert is detailing how such an extension — and likely another one next year — could hurt taxpayers in the long run. “The harmful piece is if consumers begin to think, ‘Wow, we’re going to have this long open enrollment every year, so I have plenty of time to sign up,’” Laura Adams, a senior analyst for, a company she said is unbiased and is “like Switzerland” on the issue. “They’ll tend to procrastinate and delay getting coverage. “[Then] they may have to go to hospital … get services they don’t have coverage for and that ends up hurting taxpayers when people can’t foot the bill,” Adams said, speculating on what more extensions to open enrollment seasons could do. What’s more, she said this refutes the whole point of Obamacare. “[It’s] trying to prevent us from having to take on the burden of uninsured people’s debt,” she said. Overall, Adams said she thinks the government, despite its extensions, is trying to make the enrollment period short so people will avoid thinking there will be a second chance they could sign up. “It’s the governments way of trying to force our hands in getting coverage now, even if we’re not sick,” she continued. “[The government doesn’t] want to get into a situation where they make it months and months and months. There’s no incentive.” From the insurance companies’ standpoint, the extensions might mess with the complicated forecasting they do to set rates for the next year, but Adams said making the enrollment period longer is actually a boon for them as they get more customers. Even with the financial ding that some people are going to experience this year as a reminder that they have to sign up for health insurance by law, Adams said she thinks the same extension will happen next year as well. “I can’t imagine that every single uninsured American will be in the loop on this information in a year,” Adams said…”


Obamacare’s 1095-A Nightmare

“Tax season is stressful enough. But if you are like countless miserable Americans trapped in the Obamacare 1095-A abyss, it’s hell on stilts on a Segway teetering over the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The screw-ups, incompetence and bureaucratic blame avoidance over the health insurance exchange tax forms make the website fiasco look like a flawless product launch. How do I know? My family inexplicably got ensnared in the 1095-A paperwork pit. It’s a government roach motel: Taxpayers check in, but they can never check out. In 2013, our private high-deductible PPO from Anthem Blue Cross got canceled because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA).” Millions of others like us in the individual market for health insurance — including self-employed people, small-business owners, writers, artists and home-based entrepreneurs — suffered the same fate. My husband reluctantly contacted Colorado’s state health insurance exchange, “Connect for Health Colorado,” just to see what our options were. Months later, we settled on purchasing a new non-Obamacare plan directly from a different private insurer, Rocky Mountain Health. The provider network is much narrower than the Anthem plan we had before the feds intervened. Our two kids’ dental care is no longer covered, and we’ve had our insurance turned down at an urgent care clinic — something that had never happened before. Better off? Bullcrap. But wait, it gets worse. Somewhere along the way, the worker bees at Connect for Health Colorado dragooned us into an Obamacare exchange plan offered by Rocky Mountain Health without our knowledge or consent. (How else has the White House inflated Obamacare enrollment figures? Things that make you go “hmm.”) Last month, we received an IRS 1095-A form, which, much to our shock and chagrin, indicated that we had paid Obamacare premiums every month during 2014. It took hours of time on the phone and Internet to receive an explanation from Connect for Health Colorado on how exactly this happened. Here was the government’s response, word for incomprehensible word: “We apologize for the delay in responding to your email. After checking your account we are showing you might have had coverage from October 2014 to June 2014. Please call the number below to speak with a Customer Service Representative if this information is incorrect.” “Might” have had coverage? From “October 2014 to June 2014”? The saga continues. We were finally able to un-enroll after being auto-enrolled in the Obamacare plan. Then, after being bounced around by the state government health exchange to various voicemail dead ends and back, with hours of migraine-inducing, on-hold music in between, we were told there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the 1095-A form — which shows payment of premiums we didn’t pay to an Obamacare plan we never enrolled in and didn’t want in the first place! This is just one little horror story. In Minnesota, thousands are still waiting for 1095-A forms that were supposed to arrive on Jan. 31. In California, at least 800,000 taxpayers received screwed-up 1095-As. As a result, some 50,000 people filed the wrong form. Another 750,000 are being told they’ll get corrected forms this month. Hah. Good luck with that. The costs in time, money and anxiety to hardworking families dealing with this paperwork perdition are enormous. Unknown numbers of people are still waiting for their forms as the April 15 tax-filing deadline looms. More face the added expense and aggravation of filing amended returns through no fault of their own. Where’s the rest of the media — most of whom have been insulated from these problems because they get their health insurance through their employers?…”


Rand Paul pushes repeal of Obama tax law despised by Americans living abroad

Says Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has forced many to renounce U.S. citizenship


US: 341,000 Michiganians now in Health Insurance Marketplace

“The federal government says 341,183 Michigan residents have enrolled for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace under a provision of the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the new enrollment figures Tuesday. It says the figures are through Feb. 22. It says 88 percent of those enrolled qualified for a tax credit, and the credits averaged $236 per month. The report says 48 percent of Michiganians in the program paid $100 or less per month after tax credits. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the subsidies in Michigan and other states where residents depend on the federal health exchange, rather than state-established exchanges. The court’s decision is expected in late June.”


Over 21,000 South Dakota residents select health insurance

“Federal health officials say 21,393 South Dakota residents selected health insurance plans during the second enrollment period under a provision of the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the new enrollment numbers Tuesday. The figures are through Feb. 22. Officials had estimated that up to 27,626 South Dakota residents were eligible to select health plans through the federal marketplace The federal report shows that 86 percent of those who selected plans in South Dakota qualified for a tax credit, and the credits averaged $228 per month. The report says 47 percent of South Dakotans paid $100 or less per month after tax credits. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the subsidies in South Dakota and other states where residents depend on the federal marketplace, rather than state-established websites. The court’s decision is expected in late June…”


Obamacare enrollment among minorities remains a challenge

“Obamacare enrollment went much better this year, but the Obama administration is still struggling to reach highly uninsured minority populations. The percentage of Latino enrollees remained flat compared to last year — at 11 percent — while the share of black enrollees fell, from 17 percent to 14 percent, according to data released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. Minorities, and Latinos in particular, have higher uninsured rates than whites, so advocates for the Affordable Care Act prioritized outreach to them this year. Latino outreach hit some bumps during the 2014 enrollment season, as the launch of the Spanish-language version of was delayed. While officials acknowledged the lack of percentage gains among Latinos and blacks, they said that may not give the whole picture since more enrollees this year declined to state their race when signing up for insurance plans. And they emphasized that more Latinos are enrolled in health plans this year even if they don’t make up a larger share of enrollees. “Even though the percentage stayed the same for Latinos, the absolute number did go up,” said Meena Seshamani, director of HHS’ Office of Health Reform. “We also need to look at the overall uninsured rate and how that has gone down to a historic low.” Young people are the other major group Affordable Care Act advocates have targeted, as they tend to be healthier and can thereby drive premiums down. Just like last year, they make up 28 percent of total enrollees. Many had worried that enrollment among young adults would lag, but officials said they think an adequate number have signed up. “In terms of the number of young people enrolled, we feel pretty good where we are with that,” said Kevin Griffis, HHS’ acting assistant secretary for public affairs. The data was included in a detailed snapshot of 2015 enrollment the administration released Tuesday. Earlier this week, it was announced that 11.7 million Americans have signed up for health insurance plans on either or state-run insurance marketplaces…”


Burwell Defends Nationwide Subsidies for Health Law

“The fact that 87 percent of the 11.7 million people who got covered in the health law’s individual exchange market received subsidies shows “just how important the tax credits are to millions of Americans and to the insurance markets in those states,”Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said on Monday. The subsidies are at the core of a Supreme Court case against Burwell and the Obama administration that was argued March 4. The challengers contend that people in the 34 states that did not set up their own marketplaces should not get federal tax credits to subsidize the costs of their insurance under the health care law. Burwell said the Obama administration is “confident that we will prevail” because she said the structure of the law is clear. “Those who support this lawsuit believe that the law should be dismantled or repealed and they are content to back the progress that we have achieved,” she told supporters at a White House event. The numbers that Burwell released Monday update previous estimates that the administration released on Feb. 17 showing that 11.4 million people had enrolled. A week later, administration officials provided a partial update with data from federal exchanges only. The new numbers include data from both federal and state-run marketplaces through Feb. 22…”


7.7M ObamaCare customers qualify for subsidies in 2015

“Nearly nine in 10 people who signed up for healthcare from the federal government this year qualify for subsidies, the Obama administration announced Tuesday. A total of 7.7 million people would receive subsidies this year in the roughly three-dozen states using – a figure that has held steady since ObamaCare’s first year. The Obama administration touted the figure Tuesday to show that the vast majority of people in states using the federal exchange rely on subsidies as the Supreme Court weighs a case that could eliminate them. A total of 34 states using could lose subsidies if the court rules against ObamaCare later this spring in King v. Burwell, a GOP-backed lawsuit. A vast amount of federal spending is at stake in the decision – about $2 billion per month, according to the new figures. On average, a person who qualifies for subsidies would have to pay less than one-quarter of their premium cost. The average subsidy is $263 per month. While 37 states use, only 34 are affected by King v. Burwell. Three states – Nevada, Oregon and New Mexico – had been officially approved as state exchanges before beginning to use the federal government’s platform. The figures were released as part of a 37-page enrollment report, which offers the most comprehensive glimpse to date of ObamaCare’s fate in 2015. The enrollment report covers the 11.7 million people who have signed up for ObamaCare, though not necessarily all of those who have paid for their plans. The report shows how many people qualify for subsidies, but not necessarily how many people will receive them. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced the total enrollment figure of 11.7 million at a White House event on Monday, which she used as a direct appeal to the court.  “These numbers show just how important the tax credits are to millions of Americans and to the insurance markets in those states,” she said, pointing to states like Texas, Florida and North Carolina…”


86 Percent of Health Law Enrollees Receive Subsidies, White House Says

“The Obama administration said Tuesday that 11.7 million Americans now have private health insurance through federal and state marketplaces, with 86 percent of them receiving financial assistance from the federal government to help pay premiums. About three-fourths of people with marketplace coverage — 8.8 million consumers — live in the 37 states served by, the website for the federal insurance exchange. The other 2.9 million people are in states that created and operate their own exchanges. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, underlined the importance of subsidies for people in states using the federal exchange — subsidies that could be withdrawn if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration in a pending case. Administration officials suggested that more than seven million people could lose subsidies, making insurance unaffordable, if the court ruled that such assistance was unavailable in the federal exchange. The plaintiffs contend that the Affordable Care Act does not allow subsidies in the federal exchange…”


ObamaCare stinks even with subsidies

“Last week’s Supreme Court arguments on ObamaCare struck me as a bit irrelevant, and not just because the case won’t impact New York. The case is about whether federal subsidies are actually legal in states that didn’t set up their own insurance exchanges — but the truth is, ObamaCare is a bad deal even with the subsidies. Down here in the medical trenches, the harsh reality of the Affordable Care Act continues to play out. My patients continue to report delays in signing up for ObamaCare policies and are rarely happy with what they end up with. They all have high deductibles and a narrow network of doctors to choose from. This isn’t their fault — it’s all they can afford. Of course, without the subsidies, my blue-collar patients, many of whom work part-time jobs, wouldn’t be able to afford ObamaCare insurance at all. Keep in mind that federal subsidies cover 75 percent of ObamaCare premiums nationwide, so if the high court upholds the written language of the law, and not the Obama IRS’s decision to ignore that language, 7.5 million people will likely lose their coverage. But, again, even with the subsidies, it’s no bargain. When you use the insurance, you find that you have to pay out-of-pocket for your x-ray, ultrasound or lab work — and keep on paying for tests until you spend enough to cover your $5,000 deductible. You can’t afford the test, so you delay it…”


ObamaCare case looms over GOP budget

“Congressional Republicans are considering using a budget tool known as reconciliation to deliver a bill to President Obama’s desk outlining their party’s response to the Supreme Court case challenging ObamaCare. GOP aides say reconciliation is becoming an increasingly attractive option to avert the healthcare meltdown that could result from a ruling this June against ObamaCare in the King v. Burwell case. A ruling against the administration could take away subsidies from people in 37 states, many of them led by GOP governors, to buy ObamaCare on state-based health exchanges. Using reconciliation would make it much easier to get a fix to Obama’s desk because the budget process prevents a filibuster and allows the Senate to approve major policy changes in a majority vote. But it would also introduce complications to the GOP’s already thorny prospect of moving a budget bill. Budgets are always controversial, and a plan that includes fixes to ObamaCare but does not fully repeal the law could draw opposition from some Republicans. The GOP is already coming under conflicting pressures. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) called Monday for Congress to provide transitional aid to people in danger of losing their subsidies. But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a prospective GOP candidate for the White House, has criticized fixes that would allow ObamaCare to stand. Separately, Republicans are determined to show the Supreme Court that they have a plan of action, because they believe it will make the justices more likely to rule against ObamaCare’s subsidies. Budget reconciliation would allow Republicans to signal to the justices and to state leaders that they are working on a plan while buying themselves several months to hammer out details. Both the House and Senate have charged senior members with creating backup plans to replace the subsidies. Officials for both working groups, led by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), respectively, have said reconciliation is being considered. “Republicans are considering a number of options for repairing the damage of Obamacare. Budget reconciliation is certainly one option,” Barrasso spokeswoman Emily Schillinger wrote in an email. Barrasso told reporters last fall that he planned to “use every tool that is out there, including reconciliation,” to torpedo ObamaCare…”


Federalism Will Sink, Not Save, Obamacare

“The battle over insurance subsidies. With the Supreme Court on the brink of invalidating an IRS rule that provides billions of dollars of subsidies in states that did not establish Obamacare exchanges, defenders of the law have suddenly become fair-weather federalists. They argue that the Obamacare regulation must be upheld, because invalidating it would intrude on state sovereignty. Yes, you read that right: Allowing the federal government to expand the reach of Obamacare and its mandates into states that refused to create Obamacare exchanges would promote states’ rights. While this argument may seem crazy on its face, it has emerged as a Hail Mary effort to obtain the blessing of the Court’s perennial swing vote, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. This plan, however, may seriously backfire and unravel all of Obamacare, not just this provision. If the subsidy scheme is  in fact unconstitutionally coercive to states, the correct remedy is to strike the law in its entirety, not salvage its legitimate parts. In order to make insurance more affordable, Obamacare pays subsidies to people who buy policies on an “exchange established by the state.” The administration expected that all 50 states would establish exchanges, but in fact more than three dozen states declined. To ensure a pain-free implementation of the law despite this fact, the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue commissioner issued a rule saying that subsidies would be paid in all states, regardless of whether they established an exchange. This rule was challenged as inconsistent with the ACA, and now the Supreme Court is poised to invalidate it in the case of King v. Burwell. Supporters of the law, recognizing that they have a weak argument based on the text of the ACA — after all, the law says subsidies are limited to an “exchange established by the state” — have turned to federalism to save Obamacare. (Curiously, they were silent on the coercive nature of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion when it was challenged in 2012.) The argument goes something like this: Congress could not have intended to deny subsidies in states without exchanges, because that would render insurance policies unaffordable in those states, and trigger the dreaded “adverse-selection death spiral.” The Democratic Congress in 2010, they argue, would never have forced this Hobson’s choice on recalcitrant red states. Therefore, in order to promote the interests of federalism and states’ rights, the Supreme Court should interpret the statute so that subsidies are available in all states. In other words, the potential intrusion onto federalism is so severe that the justices should place a thumb on the scale in order to uphold the government’s reading of the statute, even if that is not how Congress actually designed it…”


King v. Burwell’s Mere Existence Is Politically Remarkable

Who would have thought so many states would refuse to set up their own Obamacare exchanges?

“On Wednesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the case challenging the IRS’s decision to pay subsidies to lower-income health-insurance buyers in states with federal insurance exchanges — even though the Obamacare legislation authorizes subsidies only in states with exchanges “established by the state.” The Obama administration is thus in the uncomfortable position of arguing that the president’s signature law says what it doesn’t say. Nevertheless, initial analyses of the oral argument suggest the government might win. The four Democratic-appointed judges seemed determined to advance arguments that, if you look at the statute as a whole, Congress wanted to pay subsidies to lots of people, even if it didn’t say so. A similar argument was made with considerable invective in a dissent in an identical case by D.C. Circuit judge Harry Edwards, a Democratic-appointed judge who otherwise during a long career encouraged consensus and civility in a once-rancorous court. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s questions suggested there may be a fifth vote to uphold the administration’s position. Justice Kennedy asked whether the “established by the state” provision might amount to an unconstitutional commandeering of the state governments. Commandeering is legal shorthand for the widely agreed doctrine that Congress cannot command the states to adopt legislation. Instead, Congress typically offers the states money if they accept certain conditions. No highway and transportation money if you don’t establish a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit, for example, or a minimum drinking age of 21. Limiting subsidies, as the Obamacare statute does, to states that establish their own exchanges is thus not unusual; it’s typical of how Congress gets states to do what it wants. But there are limits. In the June 2012 National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius decision upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare, the Supreme Court also ruled, 7–2, that Obamacare could not compel states to vastly increase Medicaid spending or lose all Medicaid funds. Raising the ante, the court held, amounted to commandeering.”


The Dilemma: Angry at Obamacare, Angrier Without It


HHS: Nearly 8M could lose Obamacare subsidies after Supreme Court ruling

“Nearly 8 million Americans could lose subsidies that help them afford Obamacare plans if the Supreme Court strikes down the administration’s interpretation the 2010 law, according to data released Tuesday. The Health and Human Services Department says roughly 7.7 million people in 37 states received tax credits to offset the cost of plans from, the federal insurance portal for states that did not set up their own health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The taxpayer-funded subsidies had an average monthly value of $263 per person, meaning the government would pay out roughly $24 billion for the year when multiplied across the current number of enrollees. “The figures released today tell a story of health coverage consumers rely on for financial and health security — and of coverage they don’t want to lose,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said. “Millions of marketplace consumers in states qualified for tax credits to make their coverage affordable and accessible.” The justices last week heard oral arguments in the case known as King v. Burwell, with challengers saying the administration is breaking the law by paying the subsidies to customers in states that rely on the federal exchange. The law says subsidies can be paid to customers in exchanges “established by the state.” If the court rules against the administration, customers in two-thirds of the states would be cut off from subsidies, which would create a crisis for both Congress and the White House…”


Federal health insurance aid in doubt for nearly 8M

“Nearly 8 million people could lose up to $24 billion a year in health insurance subsidies in a Supreme Court case threatening President Barack Obama’s law, according to a government report released Tuesday. The estimates by The Associated Press show what’s at stake in the case. Health overhaul opponents argue that subsidies are illegal in some three dozen states where the federal government took charge of running the health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges. The justices heard arguments last week, and the court’s decision is expected in late June. Tuesday’s report from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that about 7.7 million people in the 37 states with federally-run markets are getting an average of $263 a month to help pay premiums. That works out to around $2 billion a month, although it may drop over the year as the number of people insured fluctuates. The biggest potential loser would be Florida, with nearly 1.5 million residents getting an average of $294 a month. That works to $440 million a month currently, or up to $5.3 billion a year for the state. The subsidies are delivered in the form of tax credits. Texas could also face significant exposure. More than 1 million residents are getting an average subsidy of $239 a month. That works out to nearly $2.9 billion a year. “The simple truth is that millions of Americans in all 50 states rely on the Affordable Care Act for tax credits to buy insurance,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said earlier this week…”


White House Launches ‘Next Generation ACO’ With High-Touch Value-Based Care


Florida could become second-largest state to expand Medicaid

“Florida lawmakers are moving forward with a closely watched proposal that could expand Medicaid for 1 million people. The GOP-controlled Florida Senate unanimously approved a bill on Tuesday that would accept federal dollars under ObamaCare to expand eligibility for Medicaid. The passage of the bill – which has been eyed by other GOP state lawmakers who have resisted the expansion – sets up the second showdown in the House in as many years. The Senate previously pushed through a Medicaid expansion bill in 2013, though it was rejected by the House. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who was narrowly reelected last fall, has said he would support Medicaid expansion if the bill reached his desk. Florida would become the second-largest state to expand Medicaid after California. Texas, which has the second largest population of any state, has also refused to expand the program. The state has faced heavy pressure to expand the program, led by a coalition of business groups called A Healthy Florida Works. The coalition cheered the bill’s passage on Tuesday, stressing that “the business community is united” around the plan. “The Florida Senate proved again today that they are willing to do what’s right for Florida by backing an affordable, private health care coverage option for low-income, uninsured Floridians,” they wrote.”


Florida Senate pushes alternative to Medicaid expansion


Utah lawmakers close in on budget without Medicaid deal

“With only days to go before the Utah Legislature adjourns, lawmakers remained at an impasse on Tuesday on Medicaid expansion and it appeared they might wrap up the budget without resolving one of the biggest spending disputes of the year. State senators were supporting a Medicaid plan proposed by the governor that would cost $25 million for two years. But lawmakers in the House of Representatives have instead put forward their own plan, which would cost about $32 million a year. With the House and Senate at impasse, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said he would consider calling a special session to address the issue later this year. Here’s how the budget is shaping up without the Medicaid expansion…”


How the Clean Air Act Holds Back the American Economy

“Should Americans care about the decline of manufacturing employment? I’m inclined to think that the answer is yes. Overall employment is increasingly weighted towards the nontradable sector — particularly health care, education, and government, heavily-subsidized sectors plagued by low productivity levels. The tradable sector, meanwhile, is dominated by knowledge-intensive services, a sector that employs a relatively small number of people, and which largely excludes the vast, non-college-educated middle of the skill distribution. This isn’t to suggest that manufacturing jobs are intrinsically superior to service jobs — it’s just that capital-intensive manufacturing jobs are more likely to support high wages than service jobs. There are a number of reasons U.S. manufacturing employment has declined in recent decades. The main driver is rising productivity, which helps explain why manufacturing output has held steady as a share of GDP even as manufacturing employment has tumbled. Rising productivity is something we should absolutely welcome. But there are other contributing factors as well, including dollar appreciation, which increases the relative cost of goods manufactured in the U.S., and the high cost of complying with stringent regulations. These factors have contributed to the offshoring of manufacturing employment. Offshoring is not, in my view, an entirely bad thing. Low-wage, labor-intensive manufacturing jobs belong in the developing world. Yet these aren’t the only manufacturing jobs that are being offshored. So are capital-intensive jobs that can support high wages. Is there anything we can do to not just stop the outflow of such jobs but to generate more of them? Recently, Oren Cass observed that the Clean Air Act, widely-viewed as one of the most successful laws in modern American history, “is forcing Americans to accept substantial economic sacrifices that they cannot afford, in pursuit of environmental gains that they do not need and that are not worth the cost.” The Obama administration has issued new regulations under the Clean Air Act that will make matters worse. Instead of just rolling back this latest round of regulations, however, Cass calls for reforming the Clean Air Act to ensure that it does a better job of balancing environmental priorities with the need for economic growth. I won’t even try to summarize the maddening ins and outs of the Act, which Cass describes in detail. His main point is that one of its primary mechanisms for improving air quality is imposing far more expensive requirements on new or expanded facilities than on existing facilities. The perverse result is that many firms find it impracticable to upgrade their facilities, even when doing so would reduce pollution relative to the status quo. With this in mind, Cass calls for reforming the Clean Air Act to allow new or expanded industrial and energy-processing facilities under the same rules that apply to older plants…”


Supremes Protect Notre Dame from Contraception Mandate

“It would have been so easy to permit a religious exemptions from Obamacare coverage requirements that are contrary to the religious values of employers and institutions. Think of the litigation and societal conflict that could have been avoided. But that’s not how this administration rolls. Foregoing coercion would be to give up powerful leverage in the Obamacarian drive to use healthcare as a pretext for imposing its moral views on all of society.   Why else would the administration try and force Catholic facilities, like Notre Dame University, to cover contraception when birth control is directly contrary to Catholic religious dogma? A lower court had ruled against Notre Dame. But in the wake of the Hobby Lobby victory, the Supreme Court has instructed the Court of Appeals to revisit the issue. From the Reuters story: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived the University of Notre Dame’s religious objections to the requirement for contraception coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, throwing out a lower court decision in favor of the federal government. The justices asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision against the South Bend, Indiana-based Roman Catholic university in light of the June 2014 Supreme Court ruling that allowed certain privately owned corporations to seek exemptions from the provision. The case is part of national litigation concerning religious objections to the contraception provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known widely as Obamacare. Good. It would be bizarre if private businesses had an opt-out from religiously offensive mandates, but not explicitly religiously-based organizations. These cases are very important, not only in their own right, but because they are stalking horses for abortion and assisted suicide.”


Scott Walker’s One-Of-A-Kind Obamacare Conundrum

Liberals want to make the governor’s past decision come back to haunt him in 2016 if SCOTUS guts the law.

“No Republican presidential aspirant has a stake in the Supreme Court case that could invalidate the Affordable Care Act’s tax subsidies for millions of Americans quite like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The Midwestern executive who is enjoying some of the biggest 2016 hype looks intent on keeping his distance from King v. Burwell and its consequences—but liberals in his state sound equally insistent on making sure that Walker pays a political price if a decision he made two years ago costs tens of thousands of people their health coverage. Back in 2013, Walker used Obamacare in a one-of-a-kind way, directing an estimated 77,000 people who had been enrolled in a state Medicaid program to Obamacare’s subsidized private coverage. But the Supreme Court’s ruling could put those people at risk of losing their tax credits and by extension their health insurance, possibly leaving them with nowhere to go. “I certainly hope that this would be a conversation that the national media would pick up on,” Democratic state Rep. Melissa Sargent said. “I can’t begin to understand why he’s making the decision that he is.” Walker made his move because Wisconsin’s Medicaid program was actually more generous than Obamacare’s for that group of people. He changed the state program’s eligibility so that anybody who qualified for the federal law’s tax credits would get coverage that way instead of enrolling through Medicaid. He also declined to set up a state marketplace, which means that Wisconsinites had to enroll through the federal, where the law’s opponents now argue the tax credits are illegal. (An important note: Walker’s plan did extend Medicaid coverage to people too poor to qualify for Obamacare’s subsidies, enrolling tens of thousands other low-income residents, though not through the federal law’s Medicaid expansion, which Walker declined as part of his reforms). The governor’s predicament, in a way, is a microcosm of the entire King case. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked the attorney representing the law’s opponents during oral arguments last week, in a likely play to swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy’s federalism concerns: “Do you really believe that states fully understood that their citizens were not going to get subsidies if they let the federal government” set up their exchange, as Wisconsin did? Bloomberg Politics’s Joshua Green pointed out King’s implications for Walker last week, and that raises the question of how Walker’s opponents might use it against him. Sargent and another Democratic legislator introduced a bill last week to create a state-based exchange, which would prevent people in Wisconsin from losing their tax credits, but she said she didn’t expect Walker’s support…”


Obama to visit VA hospital in Phoenix, the heart of last summer’s scandal

“President Obama is planning to visit Phoenix’s troubled Veterans Affairs hospital, the site of a scandal last year that caused the largest shakeup in the history of the VA. White House officials confirmed Tuesday that Obama and Secretary Robert McDonald plan to meet Friday with administrators at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center. The president’s visit comes two months after he was criticized by Congress and veterans groups for not talking with Arizona veterans during a visit to the state, where he previewed his housing policies. Some members of Congress slammed Obama because he drove right past the hospital without stopping during that visit. The scandal over the medical center’s delays in providing care for veterans, some of them struggling with cancer, suicidal thoughts and other issues, sparked an investigation. It led to revelations that the problem was not limited to the Phoenix facility and that similar lapses were seen at scores of VA facilities. The revelations prompted a public uproar and cost McDonald’s predecessor, Eric K. Shinseki, his job. This time, Obama is visiting after a stop at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser and an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show in Los Angeles. In a background statement, a White House official said the VA “has made progress in accelerating care to veterans and addressing instances of unacceptable wait-times nationwide.” The Phoenix hospital is still mired in controversy, and several employees who work there said they were looking forward to the visit. “I hope that the visit by the president along with the VA secretary will help ensure that the administration at the Phoenix VA hospital will be held to the highest standards when it comes to caring for suicidal and intoxicated veterans,” said Brandon Coleman, a therapist and decorated veteran who said he was suspended in January for urgently warning that there was a problem with how suicidal veterans were being treated. “It’s my hope that this visit will help promote a workplace free of whistleblower harassment.” McDonald came to office in July with a mandate for reform. He announced that he wanted to make “every employee a whistleblower” and help foster a culture that “celebrates them,” after whistleblowers in Phoneix said they were harassed and silenced after they raising the wait-time issue…”


Obama to visit Phoenix VA hospital that sparked scandal


Obama to finally visit the VA hospital at the center of the scandal




Immigrant border surge dips; crossings forecast to rise in summer

“The number of Central American children and families illegally crossing the southern border, particularly in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, is likely to be smaller this year than last, but large enough to overwhelm shelters and courts, new Border Patrol statistics and projections show. There were 12,509 unaccompanied youths caught at the southern border during the first five months of the federal fiscal year that began in October, down 42% compared to the same time period last year, according to the latest Border Patrol figures. A total of 11,133 families were caught at the border during the same time period, 21% fewer than this time last year. That means the Border Patrol is on pace to catch about 39,000 unaccompanied children and about 53,000 families on the southern border this fiscal year, according to Adam Isacson, a senior associate at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America. Isacson based his projection on past immigration patterns, which tend to increase March through July. If the projections hold, it would represent a 43% decrease in unaccompanied children and an 23% decrease in families this year compared to last. But even with the projected decline, the number of families crossing the border illegally would be more than triple the number in 2013, when 14,855 family members crossed. More than half of the children and families still appear to be crossing through the Rio Grande Valley, which saw 17% fewer families compared to this time last year and nearly half as many children, the Border Patrol reported. Border Patrol officers are on pace to apprehend far fewer Honduran children and families this fiscal year compared to last: 3,758 unaccompanied children—79% fewer and the lowest total since 2012—and 12,680 families, a 63% drop, according to WOLA predictions. They are also expected to catch fewer Salvadoran children and families this year: 7,030 children, or 57% fewer than last year; 13,161 families, or 11% fewer than last year, according to WOLA. Bryan Johnson, a New York-based lawyer who works with immigrant youth and families, said the decrease in Honduran immigrants caught crossing so far this fiscal year was likely due to the Obama administration speeding deportations from the U.S. and Mexico and encouraging Central American countries to crack down on illegal immigration. “But I don’t think the conditions in those countries have changed to stop the push” for families and children to immigrate to the U.S., Johnson said, citing gang and cartel violence…”


Joe Biden calls on Congress to approve $1 billion for Central America

“Vice President Joseph R. Biden called on Congress Tuesday to approve the administration’s request for $1 billion for Central America to help discourage illegal immigrants who surged into the U.S. in 2014. In an op-ed in The Hill, Mr. Biden said the aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala will “put the region on a more stable and sustainable path.” “This level of support is nearly three times what we have provided to Central America in the recent past,” Mr. Biden said. “But the cost of investing now in a Central America where young people can thrive in their own communities pales in comparison to the costs of another generation of violence, poverty, desperation and emigration.” Last year, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from the region crossed into the U.S., many of them unaccompanied children. Administration officials said they were driven by chronic poverty and crime, and that the solution is to improve economic opportunity and security in those countries. Mr. Biden held meetings with Central American officials in Guatemala earlier this month and praised the leaders for their commitment to a plan called the Alliance for Prosperity. With aid from the Inter-American Development Bank, Mr. Biden said, the plan will “create the conditions we know prevent migration, measures to reduce poverty, steps to attract foreign investment and the continuation of our successful efforts to target smuggling networks.”


US Attorneys DECLINED Prosecution Against Illegal Aliens Who Used Social Security Numbers Of Dead People

“U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute illegal aliens accused of using the social security numbers of dead people in order to work. That finding is contained in a footnote in a recent audit released by the Social Security Administration’s office of the inspector general. “In three cases, [the Social Security Administration’s Office of Investigators] confirmed that illegal aliens were using deceased numberholders’ names and SSNs to work,” the footnote reads. “But U.S. Attorneys in Arizona, Florida, and South Carolina declined prosecution.” The fraudulent use of a social security number is a federal felony. The same is true for illegal aliens applying for work in the U.S. Overall, the audit found over 6.5 million social security numbers for people over the age of 112 with no death records listed in a database called the Numident. Administration files were clearly not being updated properly, the inspector general determined, as it is believed that only a few hundred people 112 years or older are still alive in the U.S. Some of the numbers were fraudulently used to open bank accounts, the audit found. Others were used by illegal immigrants seeking work. Between 2008 and 2011, “employers made 4,024 E-Verify inquiries using 3,873 SSNs belonging to numberholders born before June 16, 1901,” the inspector general reported. E-Verify is the system the Department of Homeland Security uses to ensure that immigrants are allowed to work legally in the U.S. “These inquiries indicate individuals’ attempts to use the SSNs to apply for work,” the report reads. The audit found that 34 deceased individuals’ numbers were being misused by individuals for work purposes. And of those cases of fraudulent use mentioned in the audit, U.S. Attorneys, for some unknown reason, declined to press charges. The report cited cases in South Carolina and Arizona. One numberholder born in 1896 filed a “life claim” in 1958, at the age of 62. There were no earnings records for that numberholder from 1963 through 2006. But in 2007 and following years, an employer in South Carolina reporting paying wages ranging from $11,450 to $27,694 to someone using that number. The case in Arizona was similar. A numberholder born in 1886 filed a “life claim” in 1953. No earnings were reported on that number from between 1956 and 2007. But between 2008 and 2012, an Arizona employer reported paying between $12,594 and $17,100 to whomever was using the number…”


Senate chairman presses on immigrant Social Security numbers

“Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants the Obama administration to spill more information about how many immigrants protected from deportation will receive Social Security numbers. In a Monday letter, Hatch charged that the Social Security Administration’s own projections suggest it’s not expecting to hand out an influx of new Social Security cards — despite the fact that Obama’s executive actions paved the way for immigrants to also potentially receive work permits and Social Security numbers. Hatch also accused Carolyn Colvin, the acting commissioner of the Social Security agency, of keeping Congress out of the loop on its work, saying it was “disappointing to have the SSA [Social Security Administration] formulating plans and procedures in secret and outside of the light of congressional oversight.” Hatch had previously asked Colvin similar questions a month ago but said in Monday’s letter he had yet to receive a response. The Utah Republican’s letter comes just days after congressional Republicans backed down in their fight over Obama’s actions on immigration by fully funding the Homeland Security Department for the rest of the fiscal year. But senior Republicans on Capitol Hill have kept a close eye on the administration’s push to potentially give Social Security cards to immigrants protected from deportation. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), for instance, is expected to soon roll out a bill that would block those immigrants from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is aimed at helping working families. In his letter, Hatch asked about projections in President Obama’s budget that suggested there would be little change in the number of Social Security numbers handed out between 2014 and 2016. The president’s budget says that the Social Security Administration expects to handle requests for roughly 16 million new or replacement Social Security cards in fiscal 2016. The Obama administration also has said that it gave out, or expected to give out, 16 million Social Security cards in 2014 and 2015 as well. But Hatch is asking how that can be the case, given that the administration’s actions on immigration are likely to “significantly increase the number of SSNs that SSA will process, grant and complete.” Hatch was a central figure last year in the GOP’s successful efforts to block Colvin from being confirmed as Social Security commissioner, insisting that Colvin was in charge of the agency at a time when there was “evidence of criminal conduct there.”


Thousands of Illegal Immigrants Likely to Get Social Security, Thanks to Obama’s Immigration Executive Actions (continuation of previous articles)




Memo: Illegals To Receive Social Security, Credit For Time Worked Illegally

“Under President Obama’s rule, illegal immigrants will be eligible for social security payments — and they’ll be credited for the time they’ve been working illegally, in some cases. Obama’s executive actions — according to a Congressional Research Service memo sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by The Daily Caller — will permit illegals who qualify for the president’s program to earn social security payments. “Under the November 20, 2014, policy memorandum, foreign nationals who receive deferred action status may be eligible for work authorization,” the CRS memo states. “As a result, a foreign national who receives deferred action status may be able to have all of his or her Social Security-covered earnings count toward qualifying for a Social Security benefit (all earnings from authorized and unauthorized work).” Therefore, illegal immigrants who have previously paid into the social security system — while using a fraudulent social security number, for instance — will be eligible for benefits derived from that system. Those benefits include retirement, disability and survivor payments. The CRS admits that some immigrants could have trouble proving that they were using a specific, fake social security number while working illegally…”


GOP senators seek to block tax credit for immigrants

“Senate Republicans released legislation Tuesday to bar immigrants protected from deportation from receiving a tax credit, opening up a new line of attack on President Obama’s executive actions last year. The measure from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a former chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee, would stop unauthorized immigrants from claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit for previous years they worked in the U.S. Ten other GOP senators, including Majority Whip John Cornyn (Texas) and five other Finance members, joined on to Grassley’s bill. “This tax credit is meant to help the working poor get into the workforce. It isn’t meant to benefit individuals who aren’t authorized to work in the United States,” Grassley said in a statement. “The tax code shouldn’t reward those who broke our immigration laws.” Under Obama’s actions last year, immigrants protected from deportation could also receive work permits and Social Security numbers. The IRS has said that, once immigrants get a Social Security number, they could also claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for past years in which they were eligible.  The GOP bill would ensure that anyone granted deferred action by Obama last year, or through similar moves in the future, could not claim the EITC, a tax break aimed at helping working families that has support from key leaders in both parties. Instead, workers shielded from deportation could only claim the credit for years in which they were authorized to work in the U.S. the entire time. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has projected that the measure could save around $1.7 billion over a decade. But in its release, Grassley’s office said that figure could be much higher, because JCT presumes that the IRS will need a year to update its systems to implement the measure.”


Senators Introduce Bill to Prohibit EITC for Beneficiaries of Immigration Reform


Immigration officials see danger as local cooperation wanes

“Diminished local cooperation is putting federal immigration officers in dangerous situations as they track down foreign-born criminals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say. They say that more of their officers are out on the streets, eating up resources, because cities and states have passed legislation that limits many of the detention requests issued by immigration authorities. For years, ICE has issued the detainers to local and state law enforcement agencies, asking them to hold immigrants for up to 48 hours after they were scheduled for release from jail. Most detainees are then either taken into federal custody to face an immigration judge or be deported. But more than 300 counties and cities, plus California, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, have chosen to release immigrants, claiming too many people who have committed low-level offenses or no crime at all were being deported and unnecessarily separated from their families. Courts have said that honoring detainers without probable cause could result in a civil rights offense. ICE insists that its priorities have changed and it is only focused on foreign-born criminals who are a threat to society. It deported nearly 316,000 people in fiscal year 2014. In the first eight months of 2014, immigration officers filed roughly 105,000 requests for local enforcement agencies to hold immigrants, but local agencies declined 8,800 of the requests, according to data provided by immigration authorities…”



“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol officers—along with their families—are living in fear and uncertainty every day under President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Monday night. “What does the average family member of an ICE agent think?” Lankford said when asked what’s going through the minds of agents as the president is telling them to ignore the law. They know their spouse, their husband or wife, their mom or dad, when they leave every morning, they’re literally putting their lives on the line as a federal law enforcement individual and going into some very dangerous duties. They’re watching their loved ones step out the door, and they don’t know what the policy is they’re protecting anymore. Will they arrest someone that they’ll then get in trouble for arresting? They literally put their life on the line doing something they could face “consequences” for when two years ago that was the right thing to do, and suddenly now there’s someone saying no that’s the wrong thing to do—all while the people we know who are breaking the law are either let go, or get special treatment, or they get the preference and the law enforcement person gets the “consequences.” It’s very difficult for the family members of ICE agents, and it’s very difficult for ICE agents to know what’s right and what’s wrong and why should I get engaged and go out there and enforce the law when I don’t know what it means any more to have consequences. Lankford’s interview came as he and the head of both the ICE officers’s and the Border Patrol officers’s unions are publicly pressing President Obama for some kind of response to a letter the senator sent to the president last week…”


Judge Blocking Obama on Immigration Has Reputation for Fairness in Texas

“From his bench in a federal courthouse barely a mile from the Rio Grande, Judge Andrew S. Hanen looked over a procession of small-time drug dealers and thieves, each representing a lapse of border enforcement. In a familiar routine for the judge, he handed out sentences at a hearing last week to convicted criminals who had been deported to Mexico and then sneaked back into the United States. For returning illegally, he sent them to prison for a year or so, and most likely to another deportation. Judge Hanen warned them that their time behind bars would be even longer if they ever came back again. “I want to be sure you understand that,” he said, looking each man in the eye. Judge Hanen is now in the middle of a much bigger legal fight, after his Feb. 16 ruling that temporarily halted President Obama’s executive actions to shield millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Among officials from the 26 states bringing the lawsuit, the decision was hailed as a triumph of law over a reckless president. Mr. Obama said he was confident that the administration would eventually prevail…”


Judge Wants New Judicial Investigation Into Obama’s Secret Amnesty

“The Texas judge who has temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty is delaying his final decision so he can investigate how the administration hid the award of three-year amnesties to 100,000 illegal immigrants. “Due to the seriousness of the matters discussed therein, the Court will not rule on any other pending motions until it is clear that these matters, if true, do not impact the pending matters or any rulings previously made by this Court,” U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen wrote in a Monday decision. Hanen’s decision is generating much opposition from Obama and his allies, partly because he is the only legal obstacle to Obama’s November amnesty. On March 3, top Republican congressional leaders allied with Democrats to overcome majority GOP opposition and pass a 2015 budget bill that didn’t block funding for Obama’s amnesty. The new courtroom delay for the amnesty follows a March 5 complaint from 26 governors and attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton…”


US judge won’t order Pearce to do more in immigration case

“A judge is declining to order the primary sponsor of Arizona’s 2010 immigration enforcement law to submit to additional questioning and other inquiries by groups challenging the law. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton on Tuesday rejected arguments by challengers of the law that former state Sen. Russell Pearce’s should be ordered to provide additional deposition testimony and to allow an outside search of his electronic data. The challengers have said Pearce didn’t adequately search for all records they are seeking and that he wasn’t forthcoming during a deposition session. Pearce has argued that he has complied. The challengers have said they wanted to see why the law’s proponents believed it needed to be passed. They’re trying to back up their claim that the law was passed with a discriminatory intent.”


Judge asks Obama administration to explain immigration protections

“A federal judge in Texas wants the Obama administration to explain why 100,000 young people have been granted temporary relief from deportation, even though the government said it wasn’t taking applications for such protections. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who has frozen President Obama’s immigration program while a lawsuit over it proceeds, said in a ruling late Monday that he wouldn’t address the government’s attempts to restart the program until Justice Department lawyers explained the move. Last year, Obama announced that he was using his executive power to grant three-year work permits and temporary protection from deportation to around 4-million adults who are parents of U.S. citizens and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. He also said he would issue the same protections to an expanded group of immigrants who came here as young people in an expansion of 2012’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Texas and two dozen other states sued to block Obama’s plan.  During hearings in recent months, the government said it would not begin taking applications for the new immigration program until February. But last week, Justice Department lawyers revealed that, as soon as Obama made his announcement last fall, the administration had begun granting three-year permits to people who already had their DACA applications in the pipeline – and the lawyers said the government would not revoke the requests…”


Boehner Survives, Conservatives Cope: Ongoing Saga of the 114th (Updated)

“It was an unconditional, unmitigated cave. In the battle to defund President Barack Obama’s immigration action, Democrats won. Republicans lost. So why does Speaker John A. Boehner’s job look as secure now as it did a month ago? And why aren’t conservatives more outraged? “To be honest with you,” Rep. Paul Gosar told CQ Roll Call, “not all of it is his fault.” The conservative Arizona Republican, who didn’t back Boehner for speaker in January’s election, said much of the frustration in GOP circles outside of Washington came because Republicans promised a fight on the Department of Homeland Security once the GOP controlled the Senate. “Well where’s [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell? Where are our senator friends?” Gosar asked. “I mean, they took a bail on this one as well.” Asked about Boehner’s overall performance, Gosar paused, then admitted he has questions. But he noted his staff is scheduled to meet with Boehner’s team to discuss a statutory tactic for blocking the executive action on immigration. “I want to send him a lifeline,” Gosar said. “If it works, who knows? We’ll see what happens.” Conservatives aren’t exactly pleased with how leadership has handled the first two months of the 114th Congress. The sudden capitulation on the DHS fight — after months of tough talk — angered many on the right. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said he was “horribly disappointed, almost heartbroken” that Republicans gave in. Still, even the most conservative elements of the Republican Conference are surprisingly understanding of Boehner’s difficult job. And with the DHS funding fight out of the way, Republicans — some of whom are suddenly attuned to the concept of “governing” — see an opportunity to get stuff done: a budget, Trade Promotion Authority, even changes to Obamacare. Republicans just need everyone to forget January and February. Please. Asked about the leadership team’s performance thus far, Rep. Randy Weber’s first reaction was laughter. “On the record?” he inquired. The Texas Republican said he knew there had been “some unhappiness” with a lack of regular order. But, Weber said he understood Boehner’s position. “He’s caught, you know, in a continuum of 247 Republican members — from the most conservative to the least conservative. So that’s a hard place to be,” he said. Asked for his perspective on leadership’s performance at this point, Virginia’s Dave Brat was slightly more candid about his disappointment. “Well,” he said, after dramatically slumping his head and taking a short pause, “that’s up to you reporters to find out and answer one question.” That question, according to the man who deposed former Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary, was whether Republicans truly fought “tooth and nail” (as Boehner had promised) to block Obama’s executive action. “I didn’t see any fight,” Brat said. “You report on it. Go see if you found the fight. See if you can find it.” Brat said the only fight he saw was one in which an outside GOP group with Boehner ties — Barry Jackson, the speaker’s former chief of staff, is a senior board member for American Action Network — was running $400,000 worth of ads against conservatives such as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Tea Party Caucus Chairman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. That bit of news seemed to fire up conservatives almost as much as the DHS bill. “Again the hypocrisy,” Raúl R. Labrador told CQ Roll Call. “They complain about outside groups, but then they’re using outside groups to attack conservatives.” The Idaho Republican claimed it was “a dangerous precedent” for moderate Republicans, “and I’m not sure they want to go down this road.” Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon offered a similar warning: “There’s an old adage: When you play with fire, you get burned.”


Conservative group fires back in GOP ad war over DHS funding

“The GOP infighting over blocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration through a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security isn’t over yet. A week after the House cleared legislation to avoid a DHS shutdown without provisions to revoke the executive actions, a conservative group with ties to anti-establishment GOP candidates announced it raised more than $90,000 to help three lawmakers targeted by a group affiliated with House GOP leadership. The American Action Network, which has ties to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the rest of the House Republican leadership team, is spending more than $400,000 on TV ads aimed at three conservative House members who opposed funding DHS without attaching provisions to undo President Obama’s executive actions to shield certain illegal immigrants from deportation.

But the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), which aligns with GOP hard-liner candidates, said Tuesday that it has raised more money than the $51,000 the American Action Network has spent on media so far in the three lawmakers’ districts. The 30-second TV ads from the American Action Network are aimed at Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Jordan is the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, an upstart group formed earlier this year of hard-line conservatives that led the charge on the DHS funding fight. The American Action Network also plans national ad buys on conservative radio programs like those hosted by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. SCF President Ken Cuccinelli accused the GOP leadership of trying to oust members of their own party in a primary. “American Action Network attacked these conservatives to punish them for opposing Speaker John Boehner’s decision to fund the president’s executive amnesty,” Cuccinelli said in a statement. “Speaker Boehner and his allies may think they can use these attack ads to defeat these congressmen in a future primary, but they’re wrong.” In a joint statement, the three lawmakers described the American Action Network, which spent nearly $9 million on behalf of GOP candidates in the 2014 elections, as “pro-amnesty.” “A pro-amnesty, establishment-led political machine is trying to silence conservatives, but we will not abandon the Constitution and give up the fight to stop Obama’s unlawful acts,” Bridenstine said. “If pro-amnesty groups want to come after me for standing up to the president’s unlawful actions, they can certainly do that. But the American people will see through it,” Jordan added. Huelskamp argued that the center-right group is targeting the wrong people and warned it is merely inflaming the far right. “American Action Network is not attacking President Obama or his unlawful action; they’re attacking those of us that are standing up for the Constitution,” said Huelskamp. “What they don’t realize is their efforts only strengthen the conservative grassroots.” Both Huelskamp and Bridenstine were among the 25 House Republicans who opposed Boehner’s reelection for a third term as Speaker in January…”


U.S. immigration officers arrest 2,059 criminals in sweep

“U.S. immigration officers arrested 2,059 convicted criminal aliens in a five-day operation, the Department of Homeland Security said on Monday. Those arrested are subject to being removed from the United States, and more than 1,000 have multiple criminal convictions, the department said in a statement. The sweep, called “Cross Check,” started March 1 and ended March 5. It was the sixth such operation since May 2011, the statement said. More than 1,000 of those arrested were convicted of felonies, including voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape. Those arrested include 58 known gang members or affiliates and 89 convicted sex offenders. Most of the misdemeanor convictions were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the statement said. The detained foreign nationals who do not face U.S. prosecution will be processed for deportation, it said, without giving a breakdown of the nationalities of those arrested…”


Texas: 3 dozen immigrants rescued from refrigerated trailer

“Officers have rescued three dozen smuggled immigrants who were crowded into a refrigerated truck trailer in South Texas. The Border Patrol on Tuesday announced the rescue of the immigrants during a search at the Falfurrias (fal-FYOO’-ree-uhs) checkpoint. The rig underwent a secondary examination Sunday morning after a law-enforcement dog alerted agents to a possible issue with the trailer. Border Patrol agents opened the trailer and found the immigrants, who were shivering due to the low temperature. All declined medical attention. The driver faces prosecution. The Border Patrol didn’t immediately provide additional details Tuesday…”



“U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers at the El Paso port of entry arrested 27-year-old Claudia Elizabeth Hernandez Rodriguez of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico after a failed attempt at smuggling cocaine across the border. Rodriguez crossed with the 7.5 pound stash, worth an estimated $240,000, using two children as her cover. “Unfortunately, smugglers will use children in their attempts to blend in with legitimate traffic and avoid suspicion,” says CBP El Paso Port Director Beverly Good. “CBP officers understand that smugglers can include the very young, senior citizens, single drivers and those traveling as family units. The majority of travelers are law abiding, but CBP remains vigilant.” Rodriguez attempted to cross the border with her two young passengers in a 2007 Nissan Maxima via the Bridge of the Americas international crossing at approximately 5 p.m. last Wednesday, according to a press release obtained by Breitbart Texas. A CBP officer at the first checkpoint instructed Rodriguez to go to a second checkpoint where “Ozzy,” a CBP drug sniffing dog, conducted a search and alerted to the rear seat of the vehicle. CBP officers continued the search and found three large bundles, totalling 7.5 pounds, that tested positive for cocaine. The driver of the car, Claudia Elizabeth Hernandez Rodriguez, was arrested and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations special agents to face charges. The two children she used as cover were turned over to relatives.”




Working Class Gives Up On Obama, Fears Job Losses

“In what could be a significant opening for the Republican Party, working-class Americans have largely abandoned President Obama and rejected his economic policies as they continue to suffer from the historically weak economic recovery, a new analysis of IBD/TIPP Poll data finds.

By wide margins, this group is more likely than any other income class to say the country is headed in the wrong direction, the economy is getting worse, and they fear losing their jobs.

Just 36% approve of the job that Obama is doing, compared with 43% overall, and vast majorities say his policies haven’t helped the middle class. Over the past two months, IBD has asked people to identify themselves as upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, working class or lower class. The average income for self-described working class families was just over $50,700 a year, close to the national median household income. Those calling themselves middle class had an average income of $70,800, and the average for upper-middle class was close to $100,000. High Economic Anxiety – For years, Obama has said that his policies would produce “bottom-up prosperity,” and in January’s State of the Union address he claimed that they were “helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change.” The IBD/TIPP Poll shows the opposite. Working-class families are overwhelmingly discouraged with the economy and anxious about their prospects, more so than the country at large and far more than upper-middle class families, who are generally happy with the way things are going.

For example, nearly two-thirds of the working class (64%) say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly as many (60%) say they’re not satisfied with federal economic policies. And 53% say the economy is not improving. This is in sharp contrast to the upper-middle class. More than half of this group (51%) say the country is headed in the right di rection, 53% are satisfied with federal economic policies, and 65% say the economy is improving. Meanwhile, about 43% of working class families worry that they or someone in their household could lose their jobs in the next 12 months. That’s higher than any other income group — even lower-class people. Just 28% of the nation as a whole are worried about layoffs. The working class are even more likely to say that their taxes are too high (61%) than the middle class (49%), the upper-middle class (48%) or the country overall (52%). Blaming Obama – Worse for Democrats, the working class clearly blame Obama, despite the fact that they had roughly the same partisan and ideological split as the country overall (38% of the working class say that they are Democrats vs. 34% of all those polled, for example), and a similar racial makeup. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the working class say Obama’s policies have not significantly improved the economic conditions of the middle class. Overall, that figure is 55%. Among the middle class, it’s 52%. More than half of the working class (53%) hold an unfavorable view of Obama’s leadership, and a similar share disapprove of the job he’s doing. Both are higher than the nation overall. Fewer members of the working class than other income classes think he is doing well handling the economy, managing the federal budget or creating jobs. The working class is also more likely to oppose ObamaCare (53%) and want it repealed (50%), than the country overall (47% and 44%, respectively). They also are far more hostile to Obama’s executive action granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants — 62% of the working class oppose it vs. 49% of the middle class and 48% of the upper-middle class. Those in the working class are also more likely to want the border secured first, before creating a “path to citizenship,” than the rest of the country. More than half (55%) of the working class even oppose Obama’s call for raising taxes on wealthy Americans “to pay for programs that help lower and middle class families” if it “results in fewer jobs.” Just 48% in the middle class feel this way…”


Poll: Confidence in economy remains weak

“Economic confidence has remained negative for the third consecutive week, according to a survey released by Gallup Tuesday. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index registered at -3 last week. The index recently went back into negative territory after two straight months of hitting positive territory. The economic confidence level became positive in December for the first time since fall 2008. In October 2008, the index hit a low of -65. Dropping gas prices largely caused the increase in economic confidence, Gallup said, and now the uptick in gas prices is pushing the index back into negative territory.  Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index averages people’s ratings of economic conditions and perceptions on whether the economy is improving or getting worse. Last week, 26 percent said the economy was “excellent” or “good,” while 27 percent said it was “poor.” Forty-six percent said the economy is improving and half said it’s getting worse. The poll surveyed 3,556 adults between March 2 and March 8 with a 2-percentage point margin of error.”


Judicial Watch: Obama Family’s 2014 Christmas Vacation in Hawaii Cost Taxpayers $3,672,798 in Transportation Expenses

“Martha’s Vineyard August, 2014 Vacation Cost $400,666.30 in Transportation / $2,425,085.50 were Spent in Transportation Expenses for Obama’s July, 2014 West Coast Fundraising Trip / Obama Hawaii Christmas vacations over the past three years have cost taxpayers $15,540,515.10 in travel expenses alone; (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that the Obama family’s 2014 Christmas vacation to Honolulu, Hawaii, cost taxpayers $3,672,798 in flight expenses alone. Christmas in Hawaii is an annual tradition for the family and their most recent visit, from December 19, 2014, to January 4, 2015, marked their seventh Hawaiianvacation. The documents came from the Department of the Air Force in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed on January 5, 2015.  Costs for the trip to Hawaii, to the West Coast, and to Martha’s Vineyard last year, cost nearly $3 million alone in transportation. According to the documents, the Obama’s spent 17.8 hours in the air round-trip at $206,337.00 per hour, bringing the total cost to taxpayers to $3,672,798.60. According to other figures obtained by Judicial Watch over the past three years, Obama Hawaii Christmas vacations have cost taxpayers $15,540,515.10 in transportation expenses alone. This includes outbound and return flight expenses in 2012 totaling $4,086,355.20. (The Secret Service provided documents for Obama’s Christmas 2012 trip to Honolulu. The grand total is $654,599.40 including $409,225.78 in hotels.)  Flight expenses for the Obamas’ Christmas vacations to Hawaii cost taxpayers $7,781,361.30…”


A $17M tab for Air Force One


State Department Spends $2.15 Million on Drapes for Diplomats in Moscow

“The State Department is spending over $2 million on drapes for the U.S. Embassy and U.S. diplomatic residences in Moscow, according to a government contract awarded Tuesday. The award brings an end to a four-month search for a suitable contractor to replace the draperies, which will come in either “silk or faux silk.” “The contractor shall provide the U.S. Embassy Moscow with drapery making and installation service, to include materials, in accordance with mandatory safety requirements,” the State Department said. “Services may include the removal and disposal of old draperies, measuring windows for production of draperies, tulles, drape holders and jalousies, sewing draperies and production drape holders and jalousie, mounting drape holders and jalousie, hanging draperies and tulles, dismantling drape holders and jalousie.” The contract is worth $2,150,000. The need for new drapes was first announced on Nov. 7, and the government held a “pre-quotation conference” on Dec. 5, where prospective bidders were “shown to an Embassy apartment where they could see the current draperies and rods.”…”


Obama’s VA Spent $3.3 Billion on the Agency’s Buildings as Vets Died Awaiting Care

VA budget has grown by nearly 68 percent from 2009


Senators bring back online sales tax bill

“A bipartisan group of senators is taking another crack at online sales tax legislation. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) rolled out the Marketplace Fairness Act on Tuesday, which would give states more power to collect sales taxes from businesses that don’t have a physical location within their borders. “The Marketplace Fairness Act is about supporting the jobs we have in our towns. It is about the people who are our neighbors who work in our local stores,” Enzi said in a statement. “It’s time to give states the right to enforce their own laws without having to get permission from Washington.”….”


Internet sales tax bill re-introduced in Senate


Senators talk about lifting spending caps

“Budget ceilings on defense and non-defense spending will be relieved next year if a group of Republican and Democratic senators get their way. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a potential 2016 presidential contender, told reporters Tuesday that the group is considering a plan that would allow the government to spend more than what’s allowed under a 2011 budget deal that introduced budget cuts known as sequestration. “What we need to do is buy back sequestration. What we’re trying to do is put together a mini Simpson-Bowles deal,” Graham said. Simpson-Bowles refers to a budget proposal authored by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.) and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles. That deal included tax hikes and entitlement cuts, something Graham said could be part of the deal the senators are now discussing He said he was willing to close “loopholes” in the tax code if Democrats were willing to make concessions on entitlements…”


Obama unveils plan to protect student loan borrowers

“President Obama laid out a plan Tuesday to protect borrowers and make it easier for them to repay their federal student loans, avoid default and understand more clearly where their money is going. Obama unveiled what he called a Student Aid Bill of Rights before a loud crowd of about 9,500 here at Georgia Tech. The executive action, which Obama signed in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning, seeks to protect student loan borrowers by requiring the companies that service student loans to be more forthcoming with information about how loans are handled and creating a Web site where borrowers can keep track of multiple loans. “Higher education has never been more important, but it’s also never been more expensive,” Obama said in his speech at McCamish Pavilion. The action is one of a series that Obama has taken in recent months to try to improve access to higher education, including a plan to make community college free, setting up income-based repayment options and capping student loan payments at 10 percent of borrowers’ incomes. About 40 million Americans carry student debt, and the average burden is about $28,000. “One of the things that’s been uppermost on my mind is how do we make sure that every young person in this country who is willing to put in the effort can afford to go to college?” Obama told reporters in Washington on Tuesday…”


Obama plans to make it easier to pay your student loans

“President Obama signed a presidential memorandum Tuesday directing federal agencies to overhaul the way Americans repay their student loans. The move is the latest in a series of steps the administration has taken to promote college access and affordability, including expanding a program that caps student loan payments to 10 percent of a person’s income for 20 years. It comes at a time when student debt has surpassed $1.3 trillion and the average graduate is leaving school with nearly $29,000 in education loans. To highlight the importance of affordability, Obama unveiled his plan Tuesday at Georgia Institute of Technology, a school routinely ranked as one of the best bargains in education. “Every borrower has the right to an affordable repayment plan,” said Obama. “Every borrower has the right to quality customer service, reliable information, and fair treatment, even if they struggle to repay their loans.” The new presidential memorandum, entitled the Student Aid Bill of Rights, calls for the Education Department to create a new Web site by July 2016 to give borrowers a simple way to file complaints and provide feedback about federal student lenders, servicers, collection agencies and even their schools. The portal is supposed to help the department to quickly respond to complaints. Much of the president’s plan involves improving the way borrowers interact with student loan servicers, the middlemen who collect and apply loan payments. Obama will require companies, including Navient and Nelnet, to alert borrowers when their loans are transferred to another firm or if they fall behind on payments. “We have to recall the bitter lessons that were learned from our experience in the mortgage industry, which shows us that quality servicing doesn’t just happen,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin said on a call with reporters Monday evening. “Servicing…is a part of the borrower experience that may not be completely transparent and comprehensible to borrowers.”…”


Obama Grants New ‘Rights’ for College Borrowers

“Citing mounting debt as a problem for students pursuing a college degree, President Barack Obama signed an executive memorandum Tuesday calling for a “Student Aid Bill of Rights.” The action establishes a complaint system for student borrowers with the Department of Education to be set up by July 2016; takes steps to help students pay back their loans and analyzes student debt trends to suggest legislative and regulatory changes. The Obama administration will also release state-by-state data showing how many borrowers stand to benefit from the changes. Obama said he wanted to ensure “every young person in this country who is willing to put in the effort can afford to go to college.” “As part of that overall process, today we’re going to be talking today about a student bill of rights,” Obama said. “This is part of it. It’s an executive action that we’re able to take to streamline and improve the manner in which the federal government interacts with students.”…”


Obama gets personal on student aid ‘bill of rights’


Obama’s New Student Loan ‘Bill Of Rights’ Won’t Do Much


AFL-CIO boss on Obama’s trade push: ‘We are going all out to oppose it’

“The head of the nation’s largest labor organization on Tuesday slammed President Obama’s trade push and vowed to block efforts in Congress to help the administration finalize a major free trade pact in the Asia Pacific. “We are going all out to oppose it,” AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka told reporters about bipartisan talks on Capitol Hill over a bill to grant the administration “fast-track” authority to complete the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. “This will trump any debate out there,” Trumka said. “There is such a dramatic impact on the standard of living and a lowering of wages and a loss of jobs — this will have a major impact, and we will not forget this vote for a long time.” The opposition from organized labor is not unexpected, but the AFL-CIO’s stepped-up campaign comes at a critical moment in the administration’s effort to shore up enough Democratic votes on Capitol Hill to get the TPP deal through Congress by year’s end. Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said a fast-track trade bill would be delayed until April after talks with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) over the specific language of the legislation hit an impasse. Trumka interpreted the delay as a sign that the opposition is successfully sowing doubt about the trade talks between the United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, which critics are concerned will help multinational corporations at the expense of workers. Though the AFL-CIO has not taken a position on the TPP, the organization is opposing legislation that would allow the Obama administration to strike a final deal without lawmakers being allowed to amend the terms before a vote. Although Republicans leaders are supporting the fast-track powers, Trumka warned Democrats that “this will be an Obama bill. It will adversely affect the way working people view this administration and those in the Democratic Party for a long time.” And he vowed to make the vote a campaign issue next year for lawmakers. “He isn’t running again,” Trumka said of Obama. “They are.”…”




Common Core Flip-Floppers

“Campbell Brown has a blistering attack on Republican presidential candidates who used to support the Common Core but now oppose it. She argues that their stated explanations for their changing views make no sense. Some Republicans, for example, say they came to oppose the Common Core because the federal government got too involved with it–even though they were supporting it long after the extent of federal involvement was clear. She notes that Jeb Bush ”has become a target for standing by Common Core as a voluntary minimum level of rigor for all states. His message to governors: Go ahead and set your own standards if you want; just make them at least as rigorous.” In other words, he wants the states to have high standards, not necessarily the Common Core standards. That seems like a sensible position. But doesn’t it entail giving up on the idea of having “common” standards? Wasn’t much of the point of Common Core that we needed national uniformity? Bill Gates, for example, argued that we needed common standards because multiplication is the same in all states, and because common standards would enable a national market in textbooks. I didn’t find these arguments persuasive, so I don’t mind that Bush is junking them–but I do think it’s worth noting that he’s doing just that.”


Common Core Testing in This State is Not Optional

“As Common Core testing is stirring controversy across the country, Mississippi schools are being told the test is not optional and to document the names of students that don’t take the test. “Statewide testing is so important that is has actually been codified into state law,” Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey M. Wright wrote to district superintendents last week. “Mississippi law mandates that basic skills tests ‘shall be completed by each student.’ … In summary, student assessments are not an option. They are a requirement.” Mississippi’s 20-day window for administering the test began on Monday. Individual school districts pick which days of that window to administer the test. But despite that requirement, many parents are reportedly pulling their children from the PARCC exam. PARCC is short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which is prepared by London-based test maker Pearson…”




Report: It Takes At Least 170 Days to Fire a Government Employee

Then they can appeal!

“A minimum of 170 days is required to fire a federal employee for poor performance, if a government agency properly follows the required dismissal process. The government firing process is so lengthy that departments often keep bad employees to avoid it, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “The time and resource commitment needed to remove a poor performing permanent employee can be substantial,” the GAO said. “It can take six months to a year (and sometimes longer) to dismiss an employee.” In order to fire a government worker federal managers can consult a 12-step flow chart, which the GAO provided in the report released Monday. The report examined the “long-standing personnel issue” of the government’s inability to fire bad employees. Federal agencies have two procedural options when faced with firing a poor worker: chapters 43 and 75 of title 5 of the United States Code, and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) implementing regulations. Chapter 43 takes between 170 to 370 days to complete, and includes “counseling sessions” for the worker. The employee also gets a chance to improve their performance, which can last up to 110 days. Throughout the process the government agency must consult with the Human Resources department and their General Counsel before the worker is informed of their dismissal and their “grievance rights.”…”


Group gives State Department ‘F’ on FOIA processing

“With the State Department’s handling of Freedom of Information Act requests suddenly in the spotlight due to the flap over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account, a watchdog group has ranked the agency dead last among 15 agencies which receive a large volume of public records requests. Openness advocates at the Center for Effective Government gave the State Department an ‘F’ grade and 37 percent rating for its handling of FOIA requests. The diplomacy-focused agency came in just behind the Department of Health and Human Services, which also received an ‘F,’ but with a slightly better numerical score of 57 percent. The State Department was “dead last in both processing the requests which is the biggest piece of our scorecard. And they also had the worst regulations, old, outdated and insufficient regulation,” the center’s Sean Moulton said. “In terms of processing, I would say they are abysmal in their timeliness.” Moulton said the State Department denied requests in their entirety 49 percent of the time. “You were right around flipping a coin as to whether get a single line out of them based on a FOIA request, which we didn’t see with any other agency,” he said. The State Department responded Tuesday saying it may need to go to numerous places as part of a search effort, including almost 100 bureaus and offices within State. “The State Department is the agency of first resort for all requests for foreign policy and national security information,” a State Department official said. “We have a centralized, enterprise-wide FOIA program. We are different from other agencies in that we handle our requests at the agency level through a centralized program.” Officials have previously blamed limited resources, the sensitivity of diplomatic communications and the need to obtain records from far-flung embassies and consulates as reasons for the delays. “I know they deal with classified information and sensitive information, but there are a lot of other agencies on our list that handle that information as well,” Moulton said…”


Poll: Americans understand federal government is worthless, prefer local and state.


Senate to consider AG nominee Lynch next week

“The Senate next week will consider the long-pending nomination of Loretta Lynch to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the debate would be scheduled, nearly three weeks after Lynch was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination of the chief federal prosecutor in Brooklyn has been marked by strong Republican objections to her support of President Obama’s executive action on immigration. During last month’s Judiciary committee vote, Lynch did win the support of some Republicans, including Utah’s Orrin Hatch, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “She is qualified by any reasonable standard,” Graham said then, acknowledging his strong disagreement with the administration’s immigration policy. “The courts are the right place for this (immigration dispute) to be resolved … I’m gonna vote for this lady because I feel she is qualified.”


Loretta Lynch Confirmation Expected Next Week

“Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch will likely see a confirmation vote next week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated to reporters Tuesday, capping a saga that has seen her bid to be the first African-American woman in the position tied up in immigration politics. “I think we’ll be dealing with the attorney general nomination next week,” the Kentucky Republican said. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pronounced himself “happy” at the news and said he hopes that’s the case. But Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat who has acted as Lynch’s Sherpa, expressed some concern that there could be a repeat of insurgent Republicans defying McConnell and trying to block his move to bring up her nomination. Specifically, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has proposed blocking Lynch and most other nominees over President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. But Cruz’s proposal doesn’t seem to be getting much traction with leadership…”


Senate to consider Loretta Lynch nomination next week


Loretta Lynch confirmation vote will come next week, McConnell says

“Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, will come to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote “next week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday. McConnell’s announcement, made at an afternoon news conference, comes nearly two weeks after Lynch cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote and after an emotional weekend marking the 50th anniversary of the voting rights marches in Selma, Ala., where there were repeated calls to bring Lynch’s nomination to a vote. If confirmed, Lynch would become the first African American woman to serve as attorney general, succeeding Eric H. Holder, the first black attorney general. Democrats have been outspoken in pushing Republican leaders to confirm Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, noting that she has waited longer than other AG nominees for confirmation. Some Republicans, meanwhile, have pledged to oppose her — in large part for her refusal to criticize Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), for instance, wrote in a Feb. 24 Politico op-ed that Lynch had “extreme, radical positions” on the immigration orders and other matters: “We can honor our oaths to the Constitution — we can defend liberty and the rule of law — or we can confirm an attorney general who has candidly admitted she will impose no limits on the President whatsoever.”


New regs for Wednesday: Pipelines, efficiency, black pinesnakes

“…Hospitals: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is correcting mistakes it made in a rule for charitable hospital organizations. The IRS issued new guidance for charitable hospitals last December under a provision of ObamaCare. But the agency is going back to fix errors found in the rule. The correction goes into effect immediately…”


Obama Calls Out Walker For Ending Mandatory Union Dues


Walker Hits Back at Obama

“Governor Scott Walker (R., Wis.) wasted no time in mocking President Obama’s performance with respect to the economy after the president picked a fight with him for signing a right-to-work bill into law. “On the heels of vetoing Keystone Pipeline legislation, which would have paved the way to create thousands of quality, middle-class jobs, the President should be looking to states, like Wisconsin, as an example for how to grow our economy,” Walker said in a statement to National Review Online. “Despite a stagnant national economy and a lack of leadership in Washington, since we took office, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is down to 5.0 percent, and more than 100,000 jobs and 30,000 businesses have been created.” Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” in Walker’s decision to sign the legislation, which bans the mandatory collection of union dues. “Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past,” Obama said in a Tuesday evening statement. “So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans – by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave. That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy – not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.” Walker said that the legislation, “along with our investments in worker training and our work to lower the tax burden, will lead to more freedom and prosperity for all of Wisconsin.”


Criticism by Obama raises Scott Walker’s stature in 2016 field

“President Obama waded into 2016 waters Monday when he slammed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) for a new state law that curbs the power of labor unions. Democrats say Obama’s unusual shot at the likely GOP candidate, who sits atop early polls, could energize liberal opposition to Walker as he moves closer to a presidential run. But Republican allies of Walker believe the president’s broadside could actually help the governor’s impending candidacy by elevating his stature in the GOP field. It’s rare for Obama to single out state laws for criticism in White House statements. But that is what the president did Monday night after Wisconsin’s so-called “right to work” bill became law. Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” in Walker’s decision to sign the measure, which would block labor unions from collecting dues from individual workers without their consent. “It’s inexcusable that, over the past several years, just when middle-class families and workers need that kind of security the most, there’s been a sustained, coordinated assault on unions, led by powerful interests and their allies in government,” the president added. The GOP governor said in a statement that the measure would give workers the “freedom to choose” whether to join a union and would bolster the state’s economy. Walker’s high-profile battles with labor unions are what catapulted him onto the national stage. His successful 2011 effort to limit the collective bargaining power of public-employee unions gained widespread attention, and the so-called “right to work” law represented another victory for Walker and Republicans…”


Unions sue over Wisconsin’s new right-to-work law


For gun groups, ammo fight isn’t over yet

“The National Rifle Association is forcing the Obama administration to retreat on a controversial bullet ban, but the nation’s top gun lobby says the fight is not over just yet. Gun-rights groups are concerned that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) has not completely dropped the notion of banning a certain type of armor-piercing ammunition that is commonly used in AR-15 hunting rifles. The ATF said Tuesday that it will not move forward with the proposed bullet ban “at this time” as it “further studies” the issue. Critics say it could resurrect the rule at any point. “Make no mistake, the fight is not over,” NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said in a statement. “We will remain vigilant and continue to fight against President Obama’s attempt to dismantle the Second Amendment.” The ATF announced it is backing off the ban proposal Tuesday after receiving tens of thousands of complaints from gun owners. “You spoke, we listened,” the ATF tweeted.  The move comes after Republicans stepped up the pressure on Capitol Hill and follows intense lobbying efforts from gun groups like the NRA. Republicans criticized the bullet ban as a backdoor attack on the Second Amendment. “It’s that fuzzy thinking that it’s the nature of a bullet that causes crime,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told The Hill. “It’s not the bullets, it’s the people who pull the trigger.” Senate and House Republicans each sent letters to the ATF demanding the rule be withdrawn. GOP legislation in the lower chamber also would have rolled back the agency’s authority to regulate bullets.”


52 senators warn of sweeping ammo bans, say Second Amendment ‘at risk’


Feds abandon plan to ban popular rifle ammo

“Amid an onslaught of criticism, the Obama administration has dropped plans to ban a popular type of rifle ammunition that can pierce a police officer’s protective vest if fired from a handgun, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Tuesday. More than 80,000 people have commented on the proposal to ban certain types of 5.56 mm, or .223 caliber, ammunition since the agency announced its proposal last month. An ATF spokeswoman, Ginger Colbrun, said the vast majority of comments were critical of the proposal. Objections also came from 291 members of Congress — majorities of both the House and Senate. The ATF had proposed banning some types of ammunition used in the popular AR-15-style rifles. The rule change would have affected only “M855 green tip” or “SS109” rounds with certain types of metal core projectiles. In a letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones last month, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., objected to the plan. On Tuesday, he applauded the reversal, saying he was “pleased that the Obama administration has abandoned its attack on the Second Amendment.” Armor-piercing handgun ammunition has been banned since 1986 as a way to protect police officers under the federal Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act. The rifle bullets considered under the ban were long thought to be considered exempt because they were used for “sporting purposes,” such as target shooting. Colbrun said ATF proposed ending the exemption in part because of the advent of AR-style pistols that can fire the rounds. Such guns did not exist when the armor-piercing ammunition law was passed…”


ATF Backs Off AR-15 Bullet Ban . . . for Now

“Per The Hill, a victory for common sense: The Obama administration is pulling back a controversial proposal to ban a form of armor-piercing ammunition commonly used in AR-15 hunting rifles. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) said it will not seek to issue a final framework for the rule “at this time” after receiving more than 80,000 comments on the proposal, the “vast majority” of which were negative.  “You spoke, we listened,” the ATF tweeted. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun-rights groups assailed the proposal, and were joined by Republicans in demanding that it be withdrawn. Now it has been. As Kevin Williamson noted at length last month, this move never made the slightest bit of sense. Rather, it seemed that the ATF was “reasoning toward some specific, predetermined goal.” Still, governments are governments, and the agency’s language seems to leave the question cracked open a touch: Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework. Stay vigilant.”


ATF shelves controversial bullet ban proposal


ATF shelves bullet ban proposal


Obama’s thaw with Cuba is going so great that they just undermined sanctions on Venezuela

“This week, President Barack Obama declared the government in Venezuela a threat to American national security. “Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of US financial systems,” said White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest. “Venezuela’s problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent.” He confirmed on Monday that the administration has imposed sanctions on several individuals in the government in Caracas. The administration is “deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents,” Earnest said, and the nation’s economic problems “cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent.” The sanctions target seven specific Venezuelan government officials who are involved in “violence against anti-government protesters,” or the “arrest or prosecution of individuals for their legitimate exercise of free speech,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. The United States is not seeking to punish the people of Venezuela or its overall economy, said Lew and other officials…”


Cuba throws weight behind Venezuela in row with US


Obama on Clinton emails, IRS, VA, Fast and Furious: I heard about it on the news

“The most powerful man in the world sure seems to get a lot of information about what’s going on inside his administration from outside news reports.  The latest example was President Obama saying in an interview aired over the weekend that he learned of his former secretary of state’s personal email use from the media.  Asked when he first found out Hillary Clinton was using a non-official system to conduct government business, Obama told CBS News: “The same time as everybody else, through news reports.” It wasn’t quite that simple, as the White House soon clarified. Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Monday that Obama and Clinton did exchange emails. “The president, as I think many people expected, did over the course of his first several years in office, trade emails with the secretary of state,” he said. Presumably, that means the president would have noticed Clinton was not using a “.gov” account. But Earnest said Obama nevertheless was unaware of Clinton’s personal email server and how she was following federal records law. This, of course, is hardly the first time Obama has claimed he was in the dark about a scandal in his administration until it surfaced in the news. Here’s a look back at other news flashes delivered to the White House on his watch…”


Barack Obama: I Did Not. Exchange. Electronic. Mail With That Woman. Secretary Clinton.


Why Did Obama Tolerate Hillary’s Use of Secret E-mail?

“Thanks to Clinton’s flouting of record-keeping laws, the substance of her communications with the president — on Benghazi, say — remains a mystery. Politico is reporting that President Obama knowingly corresponded with then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton via the latter’s private e-mail address. That does not necessarily mean Obama knew Clinton was systematically flouting administration rules and federal record-keeping law. It does, however, mean he and administration officials had to know she was conducting official business over non-secure, non-government e-mail — even in communicating with the president of the United States; even though the White House claims Obama, as his top aide Valerie Jarrett puts it, “has a very firm policy that e-mails should be kept on government systems”; and even though the president and the State Department forced the resignation of Obama’s ambassador to Kenya, in part over his use of private e-mail to conduct government business. Four points bear emphasizing. 1. We are not dealing in this scandal with run-of-the-mill federal officials. As Kevin Williamson pointed out in his excellent column over the weekend, President Obama is the head of the executive branch. As a matter of constitutional law, all executive power is reposed in him; his subordinates exercise power only at his indulgence. Similarly, Clinton was the head of the State Department, answering only to the president. As a department head, she was obliged, as a core part of her duties, to enforce compliance with federal laws and administration policies — a big part of which involves personally following them…”


4 reasons the Hillary emails are hurting Obama

“The White House insists that Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account as secretary of state is not President Obama’s problem. Already, that logic has been punctured. With each passing day that Clinton chooses to stay silent on why she kept her digital correspondence private, the White House is forced to answer questions on her behalf. White House aides are clearly frustrated that Obama has gotten engulfed in the controversy with so little time before the entire political conversation turns to 2016. Yet Obama’s problems have only compounded since his messaging team tried to sidestep blame for the latest uproar surrounding secretive Clinton tactics. Here are the 4 reasons the Hillary emails are so damaging for Obama.

  1. The White House story has shifted – In just 48 hours, the White House take on what Obama knew of Clinton’s emails has changed dramatically. Obama was asked by CBS when he first learned that Clinton used a private email system for official State Department correspondence. The president replied, “The same time everybody else learned it, through news reports.” That answer prompted many political observers to deduce that Obama never actually exchanged emails with Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state. But that’s not the case. For the first time, White House press secretary Josh Earnest conceded Monday that Obama had traded emails with the former secretary of state — during which time she used the email address “” rather than an official State address and hosted her mail on a private server registered to the fictitious person “Eric Hoteham.” “The president … did over the course of his first several years in office trade emails with his secretary of state,” Earnest told reporters Monday. “I would not describe the number of emails as large. But they did have the occasion to email one another.” The White House claims Obama was unaware of how Clinton set up the private emails or server to handle the communications — and did not know what her plans were for turning the conversations over to recordkeepers, as required by law…”


Hillary Clinton says personal email use a matter of “convenience”

“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that her decision to use a personal email address for all of her government correspondence while at the State Department was a matter of convenience and allowed by the State Department. “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account which was allowed by the State Department because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two,” Clinton said. “Looking back it would have been better if I had simply used a second email account and carried a second phone but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.” Clinton spoke to reporters after addressing a women’s empowerment event at the United Nations. She did not explicitly answer questions about whether the system was cleared by the State Department, and she insisted she had done nothing illegal. “The laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my email for work. That is undisputed,” she said. Responding to critics who say she was making decisions about which emails were and were not preserved, Clinton said that the “vast majority” of her work email went to State Department employees and were therefore captured immediately for archival purposes. But she also said that when the State Department asked for copies of work-related emails after she left office, she responded right away and handed over nearly 55,000 pages of emails. She said her team went through a thorough process to ensure all work email was sent to the State Department, and that those records did not include personal emails ranging from notes planning her daughter Chelsea Clinton’s wedding to her mother’s funeral arrangements, to her yoga routines. “No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy,” Clinton said. Pressure had been building on Clinton to address the controversy over her email, which she reportedly ran off a “homebrewed” server. Critics have raised questions about the security of the account, and a committee investigating the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya has issued a subpoena for “all communications” Clinton had that were related to the attacks. But Clinton also suggested she would resist any attempts by Congress to subpoena the server, which she insisted was secure…”


Hillary Clinton: Using private email was ‘convenient,’ server to stay ‘private’



“Hillary Clinton’s “press availability” at the United Nations – cleverly arranged so that few American political reporters would be there to ask her tough questions – didn’t shed much light on her email scandal. She started off by wrapping herself in the feminist flag, evidently hoping observers would conclude that asking her tough questions is tantamount to misogyny, and tried slipping in the big Democrat redirection talking point of the day about Republicans supposedly being traitors who want to help Iranian hardliners blow up the world, or something. She also strolled in about half an hour late, a time-tested Obama tactic for pre-exhausting the audience. Those were fairly obvious signals that what followed would be low on honesty, and high on protein for Hillary’s rabid followers, giving them energy to scream “SHE ANSWERED ALL THE QUESTIONS!” for a few days until the storm blows over. As for the big email question, Hillary peddled the astounding excuse that she thought two different smart phones would be required to check both State Department mail and her personal mail when she traveled, and carrying two phones was just too much trouble, so she found it easier to set up her own private mail server at the Chappaqua mansion and route all her mail through it… endangering national security and evading transparency laws in the process…”



“Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) maintained that Hillary Clinton was likely too “busy” to use her State Department e-mail in an appearance on Tuesday’s “MSNBC Live” that took place before Clinton’s press conference. “If a government employee uses the government account for a personal e-mail, that’s in clear violation. So, to say, ‘well, you’d better make sure, before you start typing that e-mail, is this personal, is this governmental?’ People are busy, and the idea that you’re damned if you use the government e-mail, you’re damned if you use the private e-mail is absurd. She’s in full compliance with all laws she’s turning over what’s needed for history” he stated. Sherman continued, “compare that to Jeb Bush, where he releases only 10% of his e-mails, he’s subject to the same law.” He justified the claim that Bush was subject to the same law by claiming “the Florida law’s very similar to the law here in California.” He further compared Clinton to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Host Thomas Roberts pointed out that Powell did not have a personal server and that Bush was not dealing with foreign policy issues, and asked “so, is it your estimation that cabinet-level members, someone as a Secretary of State, should have no oversight?”


Clinton: Servers for email were secure

“In her first public comments about her use of private email while secretary of state, Hillary Clinton insisted that the server she used for her emails was secure with no security breaches.”




Clinton says did not email classified material to anyone while at State


Clinton Says She Followed Rules on Email

“Hillary Rodham Clinton revealed on Tuesday that she had deleted about half her emails from her years as secretary of state, saying she had turned over to the Obama administration all correspondence about government business but had erased records of communications about private matters, like yoga routines, her daughter’s wedding and her mother’s funeral. In a news conference about her exclusive use of a private email account while secretary, Mrs. Clinton sought to squelch the furor about those communications, already in its second week. She acknowledged that it would have been wiser to use a government email for official business, but said she “fully complied with every rule,” and was going “above and beyond” what was required of her in asking the State Department to make public much of her email correspondence.  “At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails,” Mrs. Clinton said. “No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.” She asked voters to trust that she was disclosing more of them than she needed to — and even to credit her with an unusual degree of transparency. Mrs. Clinton said she turned over some 30,490 emails to the State Department in December, nearly two years after leaving office. But she said she also deleted nearly 32,000 others. Her confirmation that she and her aides had chosen which emails to make available to the State Department raised new concerns about Mrs. Clinton’s power to decide which records of her tenure as secretary would be available to congressional investigators, to journalists filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and to history. It immediately emboldened Republicans who are leading a specially appointed House committee investigating the 2012 attack on a United States mission in Benghazi, Libya. “Because Secretary Clinton has created more questions than answers, the Select Committee is left with no choice but to call her to appear at least twice,” said Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, who is chairman of the committee. The news conference presented a rare and intriguing political spectacle: a former first lady and secretary of state, expected but not yet declared as a presidential candidate, standing inside the United Nations fielding pointed questions about secrecy, accountability and judgment. On Tuesday morning, Mrs. Clinton’s office announced that she would address the issue just after she delivered what was meant to be an attention-getting speech at the United Nations, part of a week of events intended to highlight Mrs. Clinton’s lifelong work to advance the rights of women and girls…”





“On Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded that she deleted nearly 30,000 emails that she deemed were “private” and not “work-related.” Finally addressing the email scandal that has engulfed her for more than a week, Clinton said that she turned over nearly 30,000 emails and 55,000 pages of documents to the State Department. She said “there were over 60,000 emails in total sent and received” on her private account while she was Secretary of state. “About half were work-related and went to the State Department and about half were personal,” she added. “I had no reason to save them, and that was my decision.” Her answer will surely raise more questions about whether she alone should have determined what emails should have been turned over to the government, especially after, as Breitbart News noted, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who chairs the House Select Benghazi Committee, said there were huge gaps in the emails his committee has received. Gowdy even “mentioned that his committee has not received any emails regarding Clinton’s trip to Libya even though the iconic picture of Clinton from that day shows her on a mobile device.”…”


‘I’ve deleted personal emails. The server will remain private’: 31,830 of Hillary’s emails have NOT been shared with the State department as she defends using private account while in office ‘for convenience’

“–Asked why she had deleted what she admitted was ‘half of her inbox’ she replied: ‘I fully complied with every government rule’

–She added: ‘They were personal and private, about matters….I did not see a reason to keep them’

–They included messages about ‘planning Chelsea’s wedding, my mother’s funeral’, ‘yoga routines’ and ‘family vacations’

–Clinton attempted to make peace with the public – and Republicans who believe she withheld pertinent emails – after a speech to the U.N.

–Only acknowledgement of the email controversy prior to Tuesday had been through a spokesman and a single tweet

–Even after the presser questions lingered about Clinton’s use of a private server, which she said would remain out of the government’s grasp

–The State Department confirmed Tuesday afternoon that it has already released 300 Benghazi-related emails, comprising of 900 pages, to a special House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack

–Those emails will be made available to the public online as soon as State finishes its review; it did not provide a timeline for that action

–All 55,000 pages of Clintons emails will eventually be released as ‘one batch’ in the same format, State confirmed

–Clinton is reportedly looking to launch her presidential campaign on April 1.”


The First Two Lies from Hillary’s Press Conference

“All over Twitter you can find negative reactions to Hillary Clinton’s just-concluded press conference. To me, the most important part of her press conference was her statement that was an obvious, flat-out lie: She said the e-mail server was initially set up for use by former president Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton insisted that there were “numerous safeguards” in place, adding there were “no security breaches.” One hacker broke into Hillary’s account in 2013 and leaked several messages to Kremlin-funded RT. Beyond that example, if her server is being privately managed, there’s no way for, say, State Department security professionals or the NSA or CIA or any other intelligence agencies to know if there was a security breach. Can we agree that the woman who said she couldn’t carry two phones because it would be too inconvenient is in no position to assess cybersecurity? Also, Hillary kept insisting that federal-government workers get to decide what e-mails are considered “private” and which ones are work-related, and that doesn’t sound right at all. On CNN a few moments ago, Margaret Hoover, a former employee of the Bush White House and Department of Homeland Security, said that wasn’t true. Finally, while her wording was not terribly clear, it appears she kept half her e-mails from her time as secretary of state as “private” and either deleted them or believes she has a right to delete them. In short, disastrous.”


Hillary said she emailed with Bill, but the thing is …

“Bill Clinton doesn’t use email. At a press conference on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said the server that housed her emails while she was secretary of state (that was reportedly housed at her home in New York) was set up for President Bill Clinton. She also said that some of the “personal” emails she deleted were between her and her husband. But just before Hillary began the press conference at the United Nations building, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bill Clinton does not use email. “The former president, who does regularly use Twitter, has sent a grand total of two emails during his entire life, both as president, says Matt McKenna, his spokesman,” WSJ reported. “After leaving office, Mr. Clinton established his own domain that staff use — But Mr. Clinton still doesn’t use email himself, Mr. McKenna said.”…”…/article/2561325


Key questions remaining about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails


Krauthammer: Hillary Will Stonewall Email Controversy Long Enough So Apologists Can Call It “Old News”


Washington Post Slams Hillary: If You Want To Be President, Come Clean On Emails

“In a scathing editorial, The Washington Post called on presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to stop “stonewalling” on her use of a private email account for government business as secretary of state. The Post writes Clinton “has given the department 55,000 pages of messages in response to a request, but those were selected by her and her staff, not by government archivists or officials. All of this reveals a cavalier attitude to the public’s legitimate claim on government records.” The editorial board noted Clinton’s only comment on the matter thus far has been one tweet, 26 words in length: The tweet also does not address a number of questions that Ms. Clinton should answer: Why did she use a private account? What discussions did she have with advisers and other State Department or White House officials about it? How many messages, if any, have been omitted from those turned over to the department? Will she permit a neutral arbiter — say, from the National Archives — to examine any withheld messages? Clinton surrogates and allies have attempted to stave off criticism by playing the “this is a Republican witch-hunt” card. The Post addressed that too. Some have portrayed the e-mail story as a conflict between Ms. Clinton and members of Congress who are investigating the attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, while she was secretary. But this is not primarily about Benghazi. Instead, it is about how Ms. Clinton responds to legitimate questions about her judgment and her record; it is about how she would function as president. Dispatching friendly politicians and former aides to television news shows to dismiss the issue as just politics does not help her cause. If she is elected president, can Americans expect a similar response when she faces difficult questions — one 26-word tweet and a cloud of obfuscation from her friends? (Emphasis added.)…”


5 House Democrats call for release of first batch of Hillary Clinton emails

“The five Democrats on the House Committee on Benghazi are asking the State Department to prioritize releasing 850 pages of Hillary Clinton’s official emails from the cache of files the former secretary of state has turned over. The State Department has 55,000 pages of documents to review but the Democrats on the Benghazi panel, led by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, want the agency to first release the emails Clinton sent to the select committee last year. “Since the Department has already produced approximately 850 pages of these documents to the Select Committee on Benghazi, we request that the Department begin its review for public release with this subset of 850 pages of Benghazi-related documents in order to make them available to the public first without waiting for the full review of all 55,000 pages of documents,” the Democrats wrote…”


Trey Gowdy to Hillary Clinton: Testify Twice on Benghazi, and Hand Over Your Private Server

“House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that he will call on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify twice before his committee, after Clinton failed to aswer several outstanding questions about her use of personal email and her reaction to the 2012 attack in Libya. “The first appearance will be to clear up her role and resolve issues surrounding her exclusive use of personal email to conduct official business,” Gowdy said. “This is necessary to establish our Committee has a complete record with respect to Secretary Clinton’s time in office.”…”


Gowdy Calls on Hillary to Testify ‘At Least Twice’ Before Benghazi Committee







“The Washington Times reports in a move to “beef up” staffing for a possible run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has hired Senate staffer Brian Phillips as senior adviser to his Jobs, Growth, and Opportunity PAC. Phillips had been the communications director for Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Mr. Cruz’s PAC was formed in 2013 to support the Texas Republican’s presidential ambitions. By January, the PAC had raised $2.2 million, ending 2014 with just over $130,000 of cash on hand, according to Open Secrets, which traces federal campaign contributions. Mr. Cruz’s PAC can raise unlimited funds for him, but can’t legally coordinate with him or his campaign once he officially announces a bid for the White House. Cruz’s previous hires include Rick Tyler, a former adviser to Newt Gingrich, as well as his own former chief of staff, Chip Roy, to run his political campaign.”




Liberal Tabloid Calls GOP ‘TRAITORS’ For Disagreeing With Obama

“The New York Daily News’ Tuesday morning cover called 47 Republican senators “TRAITORS” for sending an open letter to Iran pointing out that they can overturn any deal made by President Barack Obama. Pictured prominently on the cover are Republican senators Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Rand Paul, all of whom signed on the letter. The senators are accused of trying to “sabotage” a nuclear deal with Iran and “risk[ing] a war” with Iran. “Regardless of President Obama’s fecklessness in negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran,” a small text box reads, “47 Republican U.S. senators engaged in treachery by sending a letter to the mullahs aimed at cutting the legs out from under America’s commander-in-chief.” Bizarrely enough, NYDN appears to actually agree with the Republicans’ policy goals. “We join GOP signatories in opposing the pact as outlined…” its editorial on the subject reads, later adding, “Democrats would be grossly wrong to prevent congressional oversight of an agreement that promises to reshape the balance of power in the Middle East and endanger Israel…”


New low in relations between Obama, congressional GOP

“Relations between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans have hit a new low. There has been little direct communication between Obama and the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill since Republicans took full control of Congress in January. Obama has threatened to veto more than a dozen Republican-backed bills. And House Speaker John Boehner infuriated the White House by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the administration first. But the dispute over Obama’s high-stakes nuclear negotiations with Iran has put the relationship perhaps beyond repair. The president and his advisers are seething over Republican efforts to undermine the sensitive discussions with Iran, most recently by sending an “open letter” to the country’s leaders warning that any nuclear deal could expire the day Obama walks out of the Oval Office. “I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country — much less a longtime foreign adversary — that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them,” Vice President Joe Biden, who spent nearly four decades in the Senate, said in an unusually harsh statement. For their part, Republican lawmakers call their outreach to a hostile nation a reasonable response to an administration they say has spurned Congress and ignored its prerogatives at every turn. It’s the starkest sign yet that Republicans see an adversary, not a potential partner, in Obama’s White House — even on foreign policy issues where partisan differences have traditionally been somewhat muted…”


Firestorm erupts over GOP letter challenging Obama’s power to approve Iran nuclear deal


Chris Matthews: This Republican Senate letter to Iran feels seditious to me


Hillary Clinton calls GOP letter to Iran ‘out of step’ with American traditions

“Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday called a letter 47 GOP senators sent to Iran “out of step with the best traditions of American leadership.” The letter added fuel to an already heated battle between the White House and Republicans over  negotiations to curtail Iran’s nuclear program. Clinton addressed it at a news conference in New York, where  she sought to defuse the controversy over her use of private e-mails during her time in the Obama administration…”


Obama Administration Says Iran Could Use GOP Letter to Scrap Nuclear Deal

Officials say framework for agreement with Tehran could be in place by next week


Republicans: Obama to blame for Iran letter

“Senate Republicans don’t doubt the Iranian regime’s knowledge of the U.S. constitutional system and the role of Congress in approving treaties. But they say they are frustrated by President Obama’s repeated efforts to minimize Congress’ influence as he barrels toward an agreement with Iran to limit Tehran’s nuclear capability. That’s why it took only a few days last week for freshman Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to secure the support of 46 of his GOP colleagues for an open letter to Iran. The letter cautions Tehran that the Republican-controlled Congress will not recognize any executive agreement that is not approved by Congress. It also warns that such a deal would be subject to unilateral cancelation by the next president in January 2017, when Obama’s successor assumes office. In reality, the point was to send a message to the White House: Stop ignoring us. The last straw, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Tuesday, was Obama’s threat to veto bipartisan legislation that would force the administration to seek Congressional approval for a deal. Graham, who is flirting with running for president, noted that he sided with Democrats and pushed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to postpone a vote on that bill until the March 24 deadline for the conclusion of the latest round of Iran negotiations…”


Rubio Defends Letter Challenging Obama On Iran: ‘I’d Send Another Tomorrow’ [VIDEO]


Who are the seven Republicans that didn’t sign the Iran letter?

“A letter to the Iranian government seeking to undermine President Obama’s nuclear negotiations with Iran drew 47 Republican signatures and widespread derision from Democrats and the White House. “Beneath the dignity of an institution I revere” is how Vice President Biden described the GOP letter. Here are the seven Republicans who didn’t sign on and some of their reasons for abstaining…”


Rep. King on Iran Nuke Deal: ‘If It’s a Treaty, You Have To Go To The Senate’

“Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) said the nuclear deal President Barack Obama is negotiating with Iran, if it is a treaty, should be submitted to the Senate for a ratification vote, which would require two-thirds of the senators to vote in favor for it to pass, as required by the Constitution. He added that if it is an “executive agreement,” then “it should go to the House and Senate.” In Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, asked Rep. King if he believed President Obama should submit the Iranian nuclear deal to the Senate for a vote. King said, “I think he surely should.” “If it’s a treaty, you have to go to the Senate,” King said. “If it’s an executive agreement, I strongly believe that it should go to the House and Senate.” King spoke Tuesday at the International Association of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference and Presidential Forum in the nation’s capital. In his answer, King also referenced a letter written by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and co-signed by 46 Republicans in Congress informing Iranian officials that according to the U.S. Constitution, Congress must approve all treaties. King said he did not sign the letter because of “precedent” but said he agrees with its premise that Congress has to approve any deal with Iran brokered by the Obama administration…”