Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer a new poll showing Obamacare more unpopular than ever and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin ripping the administration for demanding people pay more for something they don’t want. They also discourage the idea of releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the wake of new revelations that the U.S. and British spied on Israel. And they react to President Obama symbolically planning to sign up for Obamacare today.
Archives for December 2013
On Thursday, the Obama administration made its fourteenth change to the new health care law without requesting congressional action to make the amendments. Such a move is precisely why an effort is underway in the House of Representatives to sue President Obama and force him to abide by constitutional restraints.
The measure is known as the Stop This Overreaching Presidency (S.T.O.P) Act and is sponsored by freshman South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice. He says this is about abiding by the Constitution.
“Article II, Section 3 requires the president to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. Everybody’s bound by the law, including the president. He is not exempt,” said Rice. “If a president is allowed to pick and choose which laws he wishes to enforce, it creates tremendous opportunities for wrongdoing.
“What would we say if the next president who came in decided he didn’t like Obamacare and he wasn’t going to enforce any part of it. What would we say if a president decided he wasn’t going to enforce the maximum bracket on the income tax or wasn’t going to enforce the income tax on his political friends. Of course, those things wouldn’t be tolerated,” said Rice. “We’ve got a similar type of lines going on here with Obamacare. We’ve got the president giving 1,300 exemptions. We’ve got him waiving the employer mandate for businesses but applying the individual mandate for the common conservative. It’s not right. The law has got to be applied uniformally.”
Rice says he actually started exploring this legislation earlier in the year based on comments made by a Democrat.
“I started working on this last July. Right after the extension of the employer mandate was in the press, one of the Democratic senators said, ‘How can the president do this?’ That’s what spurred me to look at what we could do to force the president to enforce the law,” said Rice.
While executive branch changes to the health care law are the most visible examples of Obama altering laws, Rice says there are plenty of other examples too.
“In the resolution, we list four specific things. One is the waiver of the work requirements under the welfare law. One is the granting of legal work status to illegal immigrants en masse. One is the waiver of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act. The fourth is the extension for one year of the ability of the insurance companies to sell ‘substandard insurance policies’. In this case, substandard means any insurance policy that people actually want to buy,” said Rice.
The congressman points out that the resolution only needs to pass the House, since the House can file or defend a lawsuit as a standalone institution. He says that would carry far more weight in a federal court than a lone member filing suit. He says he didn’t “ask permission” from GOP leaders before filing the bill and and a conversation with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gives him reason for optimism.
“I have spoken to Cantor about it and he seems interested in it. I think the chances of it hitting the floor are pretty good,” said Rice, who says he has 34 co-sponsors, including three House Judiciary Committee members. He says the ultimate success of the effort will depend upon how vocal the American people are about making sure the president follows the Constitution.
Democrats are expected to label the effort as another attempt by Republicans to scuttle Obamacare because they cannot accept that was passed and signed into law. Rice that’s not the goal at all.
“I hear that a lot, but they don’t want to enforce what was passed. That’s the problem. They want to enforce the parts that they want. Let’s enforce exactly what was passed,” said RIce.
“This is not a tea party thing. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican thing. This is not any personal animosity toward the president. What the president is doing undermines our constitutional protections, the separation of powers. Congress makes the laws. The president enforces the laws, and he’s refusing to do that. He’s not carrying out his constitutional duty and I simply want him to do what he’s required to do by the Constitution,” said Rice
The Capitol Steps break out a pair of their Christmas parodies, including a look at Vice President Joe Biden’s proclivity to say the wrong thing and the enthusiasm building around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Steps impressionist Mark Eaton joins us as we listen to “Muzzle Joe” and “We Need A Little Christie”.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer President Obama allowing some people kicked off their health coverage by Obamacare to skip paying the individual mandate tax. They also discuss reports that healthcare.gov was such a security risk that administration experts advised shutting it down for repairs – but were overruled. And they discuss a new poll showing Americans still blame George W. Bush for the economy more than they blame President Obama.
Roughly a third of U.S. states have legalized gay marriage and the federal government is helping to advance the homosexual agenda in numerous federal policies, but Utah Sen. Mike Lee is leading a congressional counter-offensive designed to protect churches and other religious institutions from being forced to perform same-sex ceremonies.
“What we want to do is make sure that religious institution, churches, synagogues and other entities, are able to maintain their own religious freedom and enable them to define marriage in the manner that they deem fit without the threat of adverse action being taken against them by the federal government,”said Lee, lead sponsor of the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act.
The vast majority of jurisdictions that have legalized same-sex marriage have included language in their laws to provide freedom of conscience for religious institutions and protect their right not to endorse activity or ceremonies contrary to their faith. Lee says more needs to be done.
“The federal government is also a significant entity in all this and we know that there is a practice of federal officials sometimes taking adverse action against people that they disagree with either for political reasons or otherwise. We want to make sure that we create this care-out to provide that protection,” said Lee, who asserts Democrats should have no problem with this legislation since they claim to respect the rights of churches and synagogues to adhere to a traditional definition of marriage.
Lee admits there aren’t many reports of the government harassing churches right now, but suggests there is great concern that could come pretty soon.
“It’s not necessarily pressure that they’re feeling acutely right now. It’s pressure that they know could be coming, especially as more states move in the direction of opening up their marriage laws. This is something people view as a preventative step towards addressing he kind of religious discrimination that could occur,” he said.
The senator says there are a number of ways the legislation could protect religious institutions, but primary goal with the bill is to protect the tax-exempt status of religious institutions.
“Losing the tax-exempt status is probably the number one concern of churches as they look to what could happen here. Presumably there could be other decisions as well. There could be decisions related to someone’s ability to enter into a contractual agreement with the federal government. There are an almost infinite number of possibilities. My job is to try to prevent that and I think that’s something that the American people support,” said Lee.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see Democrats saying Hillary Clinton will need to run as a Washington outsider who can change the way people perceive Washington – much as Pope Francis has changed the way people view the Vatican. They also unload on the free speech police for condemning the star of Duck Dynasty for views on homosexuality. And they rip liberal elitists who think it’s OK to lie to businesses to get bigger discounts.
As the Senate moved towards final passage of the budget compromise, 33 Republicans staunchly oppose the plan, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who says the math just doesn’t work.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer the news that Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson will retire, paying the way for a GOP pickup and a win for rising star Mia Love. They also worry that Dems may have a good chance to pick up a House seat in Virginia, now that Frank Wolf is retiring. And they react to Barbara Walters admitting Obama supporters really thought he was the next messiah.
Despite recent assurances to the contrary, the federal health care exchange is still not transmitting the correct information to insurance companies and personal information is still at great risk.
Furthermore, the administration is now strongly urging insurance companies to provide coverage for people who have enrolled, even if they have paid none or only some of their first month’s premium.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to stress that the widely reported technical problems with healthcare.gov were largely a thing of the past when asked if people would actually have coverage by January 1.
“What I can tell you is that we are working overtime to make sure that every 834 form is accurate when it goes to the issues at the back end problems that existed. I think you’ve seen a lot of reporting on how those back end issues have been addressed and continue to be addressed,” said Carney.
“First of all, he’s talking in gobbledygook. How on earth are the American people, who are desperate about losing their health insurance, going to understand that answer, said Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner, who also rejected the notion that the problems getting accurate information to insurers are now solved.
Turner testified earlier this month before the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee. She and the other panelists discussed the possibility of patients thinking they had coverage come January but not actually being insured because of the data problems.
“One member asked me, ‘What are the chances that’s going to happen to somebody?’ I said 100 percent. There are going to be people who think that they are covered. People who have filled out paper applications, there is no way that it’s physically possible to get those paper applications through the website and approved to get people to pay so that they are covered as of January 1,” said Turner.
She also says the problem stems from major technical holes in healthcare.gov.
“The part of the website where you check out and you put in your credit card information and you actually pay for what you have selected, that part of the site isn’t built yet. So insurance companies are having to bill directly and find the people. The forms are not accurate and don’t have all the information they need. They’re having to call individuals to try to get the information they need if they know who they are,” said Turner.
Some state exchanges are working better, but Oregon’s has not enrolled a single person and the District of Columbia exchange, where many congressional staffers are forced to enroll, has been found to withdraw two months worth of premiums from some bank accounts.
As a result of these many problems, the Obama administration is strongly urging insurance companies to provide coverage for patients, even if they have received no payments.
“It’s just outrageous. It is exactly like telling Amazon that if somebody has something in their shopping cart and they haven’t pressed ‘pay’ yet, send it to them anyway. That’s exactly what the administration is saying to the health insurance companies. ‘Pay for this care and trust us. We’ll pay you back later,'” said Turner.
“Even worse, the HHS regulations that ordered this are basically saying to the health insurance companies, ‘If you don’t comply, we may not allow you to participate in the exchanges in 2015.’ They could be kicked out if they don’t give away health care for free,” she said.
“It’s crazy. The administration is just desperate and it’s doing desperate things because they have created such a mess,” said Turner.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer a federal judge for calling the NSA’s massive data collection as unconstitutional and almost Orwellian. They also react to Jay Carney being unable to guarantee that people who pay pay their Obamacare premiums by Monday will have coverage on January 1. And they discuss the story of the highest paid EPA employee taking months off at a time and claiming he was with the CIA, when in fact he was just taking really long breaks.