Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review like the reports that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner will resign, but they’re not sure why a “settlement” was needed to force the issue. They also groan as more companies announce they will not cover many spouses once Obamacare kicks in. And they discuss Bradley Manning now claiming to be a woman and he wants taxpayers to pay for his gender transition.
Archives for August 2013
President Obama may stall a decision on approving an expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline beyond the end of his administration and his argument against the project’s job creation potential contradicts his own jobs agenda, according to an ardent Keystone supporter in Congress.
Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He says the project remains “in limbo” since President Obama refuses to allow the pipeline to cross the border and the Senate has not approved legislation designed to deem the project approved. A growing bipartisan majority in both chambers of Congress back the extension, but Obama has refused to sign off on it because of environmental concerns.
TransCanada owns the pipeline and wants to build a six-billion-dollar extension from Alberta to the Nebraska-Kansas border. The State Department has studied the proposal since 2008. Terry believes Obama is content to wait as long as possible.
“This is what I fear. When he talks about the life-cycle CO2 climate change, I’m wondering if he’s going to say, ‘We need a new study because I don’t like the criteria that was used’, even though that’s from the EPA that mandated the criteria of the study. So I’m thinking what he’s going to try to do is just delay it another three-and-a-half years,” said Terry, who believes the House and Senate might force the issue against Obama’s wishes.
“If the president’s going to delay this or wants to delay this for another three-and-a-half years, that we’ll get enough senators to vote yes on deeming it and we can actually just go ahead and get it done. Boxing the president in this way might actually be the best thing for him, because then he can blame Congress for doing it and he can keep his street cred with the extreme environmental groups,” said Terry.
TransCanada strongly prefers to build the pipeline to the U.S. but has indicated that U.S. refusal or extended delays could trigger Plan B, which would mean a pipeline extension to the west coast of Canada and shipping the oil to China.
President Obama has also indicated that he doesn’t see much economic value in the project. At a rally for his economic plan earlier this summer, Obama said, “They keep talking about an oil pipeline coming down from Canada that’s estimated to create about 50 permanent jobs. That’s not a jobs plan.”
Terry says the president’s comments are badly misleading and undermine the very heart of the administration’s own plan to create more jobs.
“It’s a six-billion-dollar infrastructure job, six billion private dollars coming into the United States to build this infrastructure project. It’ll have 20,000 direct construction jobs, another 20,000 that’ll be incidental and support manufacturing jobs and the refineries. Even the State Department says 42,000 jobs directly and indirectly created by this pipeline,” said Terry.
“The president is right. The same study at the State Department says 50-100 permanent jobs. Keep in mind this is a construction infrastructure job. So when the construction is done…there will be minimal permanent employees. But go on a bridge and tell me how many permanent employees are on that bridge that was finished right now,” he said.
“The president, in his own stimulus package, was advocating for these type of projects to create jobs, but now when it’s the pipeline, he uses it to criticize,” said Terry.
Obama has given his blessing to an extension of the existing pipeline from Oklahoma to the Texas coast. Terry says that supposedly fair-minded position was meaningless.
“Frankly it was just silly. The only thing the president has to do with this pipeline is to permit it to cross the Canadian border. Otherwise, all the states have the power in this respect. So the pipeline had already been approved by Oklahoma and Texas. Therefore, the president had nothing to do with whether that was going to be built,” said Terry.
The congressman also refutes a common argument for rejecting the pipeline extension. Critics allege the pipeline will bring great amounts of oil to refineries along the Gulf Coast but the U.S. will only be keeping a fraction of it while much of it is exported to other countries.
“The parties that have contracted for that oil are refineries, not shipping entities. So the oil comes from the oil sands in Canada directly to about half a dozen U.S. refineries that are expanding right now to accept that oil,” said Terry, who adds that Keystone will reduce costs for energy and energy byproducts in the U.S..
“For most of us that are worried about the price at the pump and our energy security so we can get in the car and get to work and get the kids to school, that’s going to add to that level of security,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are encouraged that the RNC is in much better financial shape than the debt-ridden DNC. They also wince over new poll numbers showing Terry McAuliffe six points ahead of Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race. And they discuss reports that the Syrians used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see Pennsylvania Democrats battling each other over fracking. They also slam President Obama’s incoherent position on aid to Egypt. And they react to the clamor over the birth certificate of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are encouraged by a new poll showing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu with high negatives and already trailing her likely opponent. They also examine why Huma Abedin was allowed to work for private companies while still serving as a top aide to Hillary Clinton. And they wonder why Time.com’s Michael Grunwald spent part of his weekend getting excited about defending a hypothetical drone strike to kill Julian Assange.
As the president’s U.S. Secret Service detail enjoys a week at Martha’s Vineyard, the Capitol Steps reflect back on the group’s most embarrassing moment. Our guest is Steps impressionist Mark Eaton.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Charlie Cooke of National Review are not surprised to learn the NSA routinely violates the law in accessing our private communications. They also shake their heads as New York City politicians push for even more gun control. And they discuss the latest allegations against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
The Obama health law is banking heavily on young, healthy people purchasing insurance in order to pay for the care of older and less healthy people, but a new study suggests the administration will struggle mightily to recruit enough young adults to make the system work because it doesn’t make financial sense for them to do so.
That’s the conclusion of a new study by the National Center for Public Policy Research, entitled “Why the ‘Young Invincibles’ Won’t Participate in the Obamacare Exchanges and Why It Matters”.
The Obamacare exchanges open for enrollment on October 1 and the bulk of the law kicks in at the start of 2014. That includes the individual mandate, which requires every adult to carry health insurance or pay an annual fine of $95 that the U.S. Supreme Court deemed a tax in 2012. To make the system work, the government needs millions of young adults aged 18-34 to get on board. Particularly targeted are childless single people.
“They are needed to cross-subsidize people who are older and sicker. If they don’t participate in the exchanges in sufficient numbers, then you run the risk of an insurance death spiral,” said National Center for Public Policy Research Health Policy Analyst David Hogberg, who authored the study and elaborated on the “death spiral” concept.
“This is where not enough young and healthy participate. The price of premiums rise to cover the cost of the older and sicker. Then more young and healthy drop out and the price goes up again. Eventually, a number of insurers are going to drop out of the exchanges because they will be unable to make a profit. So you’ll have fewer insurance companies competing, which also has an effect on the price,” he said. “You basically end up with an exchange pool here that’s older and sicker and the price of insurance is extremely prohibitive. You don’t have an insurance system that really does a good job of covering most people.”
In the exchanges, patients will have the choice of four basic types of plans – platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Platinum offers the most coverage and charges the highest premiums. But even the premium for the bronze plan dwarfs the amount someone will pay for refusing to purchase coverage.
The biggest chore for the administration is convincing healthy young people from ages 18-34 to buy a health insurance policy even though it will be much cheaper for them to pay the fine.
“I ran the numbers and even if you exclude just the people who would pay $1,000-plus in premiums, they would have an incentive to simply forego insurance because it would save them $1,000 and just pay the fine. If you exclude them and include the others who don’t have that incentive, you’d still come up about 780,000 people short, so even under the best of assumptions I don’t think they’re going to reach that number,” said Hogberg, noting that the government needs about seven million people to sign up for the exchange and about 2.7 of them need to be young, healthy adults.
Hogberg points out that a lot of young adults don’t make much money to start their careers and the $500-plus difference per year between buying a health care premium and paying the tax penalty is a huge one, even after the Obamacare subsidies are factored in.
“That’s easily a month’s rent many places in America,” he said, noting the difference could also make a big dent in grocery bills or car payments.
One of Obamacare’s most highly-touted provisions is also working against the administration, namely the rule that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26.
“If those folks are on their parents’ policy, then they’re not going to be going on the exchanges. That means even less young and healthy people going into the exchanges. The burden in terms of getting enough young and healthy people in there to cross-subsidize the older and sicker is going to be that much more difficult,” said Hogberg.
Hogberg says we’ll know pretty quickly if the exchanges are getting a lot of customers because he expects the administration to trumpet statistics that are favorable to the program. If the numbers are low, he says we probably won’t know until mid-2014, when insurers adjust their premiums based on the initial response. He says if rates jump by 25 percent or more, the exchanges will be headed toward the death spiral.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see a large majority of Americans disapproving of President Obama’s economic performance. They also groan as the lawyer for former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. blames his client’s criminal behavior on mental illness. And they discuss the pros and cons of the RNC possibly lining up Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin to be moderators for the GOP primary debates in 2016.
Clashes between the Egyptian military and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood left scores dead and hundreds injured Wednesday, and Middle East expert Dr. Mike Evans says the turmoil will eventually lead to an Egyptian civil war.
Evans is a longtime Middle East scholar and is a decades-long friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He says radical Islamic elements will keep fighting for their cause and that almost certainly means much more misery for Egypt.
“You’ll have civil war, ultimately, in Egypt. There’s no question about it. It’s not over yet. This is a battle for Islam. It’s not about Democracy. It never was,” said Evans.
He says the fight is really between radical Sunni and Shia elements, both of whom want to establish a Middle East caliphate. He says the Shias want to have Iran as the anchor of the caliphate and Sunnis were hoping to have their base in a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt.
Millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand the removal of Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in June and early July. The military responded by removing Morsi from power July 3. But while popular sentiment seems to be on the side of the military, Evans says the Muslim Brotherhood is very skilled at molding public opinion.
“About one-third of the population is uneducated and another two-thirds are unemployed. About 60 percent of the population are young people. The mullahs and madrassas are emboldening them and dumbing them down. It’s a real problem,” said Evans, who fears greatly for the Christian population in Egypt.
“They’re in the cross hairs. It’s the same way in the Palestinian territories. They’re hated, they’re despised, they’re considered aligned with the West. It’s a battle,” he said.
Evans is also rolling his eyes over the latest U.S. efforts to foster peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The initial round consists of low-level talks set up by Secretary of State John Kerry.
“You’ve got John Kerry on his white horse, trying to save the day by forcing Israel to release terrorists and make peace with the Palestinians, who don’t want peace,” said Evans. “Netanyahu told me personally that there’s things he would not allow: territories, treaties, an army or airspace. In order for the Palestinians to have a state, they have to have treaties. They have to have an army. They’ve got to have airspace. The prime minister will never ever give that up. It’s just not going to happen.
“It’s wrong for Kerry to come in there and give them false expectations, because when he does that he gets people killed. They revert back to the terror card and Jews die,” he said.
So how would Evans sum up the Obama administration’s performance on Middle East policy?
“Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter on steroids. Clinton had it right when he said it was a fairy tale. He doesn’t have any comprehension of what he’s trying to sell. He wants Islam to have their equal rights. He doesn’t understand what they will do with those equal rights,” said Evans.
The Iranian nuclear program is still hanging over the region and the world as well. Evans says covert Israeli activity caused quite a bit of delay in Iran. Despite that, he says Iran is a “screwdriver away from going nuclear.” As a result, he says Israel will soon be forced to take pre-emptive action.
“Israel’s going to do it. Israel will be the U.S. proxy. They’re going to have to do the attack. What Israel’s hoping for is the United States will give them backup for retaliatory targets. There’s about 1,100 hard targets that have to be taken out,” said Evans, who believes the U.S. will provide that support. But he’s convinced the Israeli attack is only a matter of time.
“Everything is on for the attack. It’s going to happen. Something very significant has to happen to stop it,” he said. “It’s definitely on the calendar.”