It takes a lot of crust to engage in hypocrisy this blatant. Remember Harry Reid's Christmas Eve vote on a health care bill few had seen and none had read? Remember his legislative chicanery, used to jam ObamaCare (unpopular even then!) down the throats of the American people?
Well, get this: Now he's exempted some of his staff from living under the law he worked so hard to pass. They can continue with the cushy government plan that taxpayers would love to be able to have -- and afford.
In the meantime, the administration is quietly issuing rules on an ObamaCare tax that will disproportionately injure small business and inhibit job creation. But Reid staffers, basking in the perks that come disproportionately to the government class, don't need to worry about any of that. They have a job where the boss can inflict rules on the rest of us, but exempt his own workers. How convenient.
Acting in his usual, completely inappropriate behavior, Harry Reid once again took on the Speaker of the House with his latest statements on immigration reform. In a threat-like statement, Reid said that if Republicans ever want to see a president from their party again, they will sign on to an immigration reform deal.
The Senate Majority Leader told his hometown newspaper,
“If the Republicans ever want to elect a Republican president again, they’re going to have to get right with the Hispanic and Asian community who, by more than 70 percent, voted for Obama last time."
Well excuse me! Reid then went on to claim that many Republicans don't care about immigration reform because they come from districts with fewer minorities. That seems to be a very broad statement Mr. Reid.
Reid seems to believe that there is going to be so much pressure, the Republicans will have no choice but to cave and approve the measure. I guess Harry Reid forgot about how bipartisanship
Another Obamacare ad:
Presumably, he was only trying to garner laughs — but as Shakespeare pointed out: ‘in jest, there is truth.’
Listen to Jimmy Kimmel’s take on the 113th Congress:
The referenced Washington Post article explained the “bad news” that the 113th Congress’ accomplishments hit a record-low:
“According to congressional records, there have been fewer than 60 public laws enacted in the first 11 months of this year, so below the previous low in legislative output that officials have already declared this first session of the 113th Congress the least productive ever. In 1995, when the newly empowered GOP congressional majority confronted the Clinton administration, 88 laws were enacted, the record low in the post-World War II era.”
Before writing off Congress as dysfunctional, remember that passing legislation is not its only duty. Article 1, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states:
“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States….”
Kimmel joked that perhaps there are no new laws that need to be passed. But, he actually might have a valid point. Of the 56 enacted bills none seem particularly earth shattering. As the Boston Globe pointed out "bridges have been named, veterans affairs hospitals dedicated, and old laws have been renewed. But little more."
So really, what is so horrible about not adding more bills to the cache? Perhaps, I am just too much of a glass-half-full person, but the title of "the number one most unproductive congress" doesn't sound so much like "bad news" to me.
Let's begin with the good-ish news for Obamacare: Leaked "enrollment" numbers indicate that roughly as many people selected a coverage plan through Healthcare.gov over the first two days of December as did in the entire month of October. Whether any of these people are, you know, actually enrolled is anyone's guess -- as is the percentage of applications that have been corrupted by data flaws. The administration is still being very tight-lipped about various error rates. Nevertheless, the website's front end is obviously improving:
About 29,000 people signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov on Sunday and Monday — a figure that surpasses the total for the whole month of October, an official familiar with the program told POLITICO. The quickened pace of enrollments came as the White House hit its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to fix the troubled Affordable Care Act website.
Sorry, Politico, but the administration did not "hit" its do-over deadline. The public side of the site still isn't "fixed," its technology is still almost comically outdated, it's security systems are frighteningly vulnerable -- and behind the curtain, the back end is still a mess. Jonah Goldberg does a nice job of puncturing Democrats' wishful "success!" declarations here. But even if one wants to view December's uptick in applications as a vast improvement, one must grapple with the larger context, summarized neatly by Allahpundit:
As for the enrollment (or “enrollment”) rate, 350,000 a month would be a major upgrade over October but it’s still far short of HHS’s pre-launch target for the website’s first three months. They wanted 3.3 million signed up by December 31st between the federal and various state exchanges. As of December 1st, Healthcare.gov had generated 125,000 or so sign-ups and the states had added roughly 80,000 in October with November’s data still to come. Assume that 250,000 people enrolled on the state exchanges last month, and that this month both Healthcare.gov and the state websites will combine for another one million sign-ups (a high bar given their track records). That would leave HHS at … 44 percent of its target on December 31st, even after the big December crunch. Even the website traffic data that HHS is touting is underwhelming upon reflection. A million visitors a day is nice, but (a) there won’t be a big splashy re-launch and accompanying presidential speech every day in December to hold the public’s interest, and (b) those one million visits produced only 15,000 or so enrollments, a success rate of just 1.5 percent. What should we conclude from the fact that more than 98 percent of people who surf over to Healthcare.gov surf away without having signed up?
Even using rosy projections, they're way off pace, a massive majority of visitors to the site don't enroll, and we don't know how each state's crucial demographic balance looks (although we've seen some dark clues and other related omens). The administration's happy talk is factually false and isn't fooling the mainstream press. Reuters:
U.S. insurers fear that a surge in enrollments on the revamped government-run healthcare website could create more problems for insurance companies already struggling with error-filled applications for coverage three weeks before a sign-up deadline. In what could become the next major headache for President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy, a group representing leading U.S. insurers said on Tuesday that technology fixes that will enable millions of people to sign on to HealthCare.gov have not fully addressed faulty data that the site has been sending these companies about their new enrollees. The problems include enrollment forms with erroneous personal information and duplicate or missing applications. In some cases, consumers who believe they have signed up may not have a file with the insurer.
A glut of new error-plagued applications will cause big problems in the near future. Insurers may have the manpower to track down and correct problems in a trickle of applications. If the trickle becomes a river (and again, people are *legally required* to obtain coverage) before the whole end-to-end system is working seamlessly, and you've got real trouble. Remember, the whole end-to-end system isn't even fully built yet. What Obamacare will end up with is people who think they're covered when they're not. That's why the White House is begging people to call their insurers to see if any record exists of their alleged transactions. Just like Travelocity! The Associated Press picks up on another problem that we mentioned in an update yesterday:
Government subsidies to help Americans buy insurance under the health care overhaul may be vulnerable to fraud, a Treasury Department watchdog warned on Tuesday in the latest indication that troubles are far from over for President Barack Obama’s signature legislation. The rollout of the law has been hurt by canceled policies and problems with the federal website used by people to enroll in health plans, causing political headaches for the White House and for Democrats in Congress. The new problems concern subsidies that are available to low- and medium-income people who buy insurance through state-based exchanges that opened in October. “The IRS’ existing fraud detection system may not be capable of identifying (Affordable Care Act) refund fraud or schemes prior to the issuance of tax return refunds,” said the report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.
I'll leave you with this glittering monument to tone deaf, self-unaware presidential speechwriting. Click through. Seriously.
Back in August, a group called “Young Invincibles” teamed up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to host an online video contest to promote Obamacare, which sounds about as terrible of an idea as the videos actually turned out.
Actor Kal Penn announced the ‘Healthy Young America’ video contest winners in a Google hangout on Monday, naming three winners in the following categories: “You are Not invincible,” “Perform a song,” and “Make an animation.”
Young Invincibles’ announcement touted a prize pool worth up to $30,000 for more than 100 prizes. According to the Washington Examiner, First Place took home $3,000, while the Second and Third Place winners received $2,500, and the Grand Prize winner earned $2,000.
Without further ado, I present just some of the winning videos:
Grand prize winner, “Forget About the Price Tag”
“You are Not Invincible” Category Winner
I don’t even know, but this apparently won something, too:
If you haven’t had enough, the Washington Examiner has more here.
Last week we brought you the story about New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Peter Sullivan hurling sexist comments toward New Hampshire Rep. and Congressional Candidate Marilinda Garcia. A deeper look at Sullivan's past behavior includes a physical altercation against Garcia and a history of racist comments toward minorities.
Last year, New Hampshire Speaker William O'Brien sent a letter to Sullivan privately reprimanding him after an incident on the House floor.
"I am writing about significant concerns brought to my attention through several complaints arising from our legislative session on Wednesday, March 28. On that day, in an effort to come to the front of Representatives Hall to register a protest with the House Clerk in a hastened manner, you brusquely exited your aisle, barging into fellow members rudely and, in one case, knocking another representative, who was attempting to get up to let you by, back into her seat. This type of behavior is unacceptable on the House floor," O'Brien wrote. "As an attorney, I would expect you to understand more than most the impropriety of unprivileged physical contact with others and the necessity of avoiding any such activity. As a veteran representative, I would insist that you show your colleagues the respect and dignity to which they, and you, are entitled on the House floor, regardless of party affiliation, ideology or beliefs."
The woman Sullivan knocked down was Rep. Marilinda Garcia.
The letter also indicated this was not the first time Sullivan's behavior became out of control on the floor and O'Brien threatened consequences if Sullivan's behavior did not change.
"Given that this is the second incident on the House floor of inappropriate behavior since your recent return to the House, I would strongly advise you to calibrate your behavior and actions more in line with the standards of acceptable conduct that the citizens would expect from their elected representatives," O'Brien wrote. "If you continue to fail to conduct yourself in an appropriate manner, you should expect that your colleagues will move to take actions against you, such as reprimand, censure or even expulsion."
Back in 2009, President of the Portsmouth NAACP Fred Ross wrote a letter to Sullivan about comments directed toward NAACP Treasurer Rogers Johnson when he was appointed to the New Hampshire Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission Civil Rights.
"In June of 2009 I was appointed to the State Advisory Committee of the U.S Commission on Civil Rights. I had just left the Bush Administration, having served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education. My appointment was based upon my past service as the Treasurer of both the region NAACP and the Seacoast (Portsmouth) branch of the NAACP and my work as a member and then Chair of the NH Human Rights Commission. While there I actually received commendation from then Governor John Lynch for my work at the Laconia Motorcycle Week when I investigated and reported on the "Rebel Rousers" tent. Rebel Rousers was a t-shirt tent selling racist items, and our exposure with Laconia Citizen reporter Geoff Cunningham forced the closure of the tent, and they have not been back to Laconia since then," Johnson says. "When the notice of my appointment went out, Sullivan blasted my selection as I was a "right-wing" politician, something that many in the GOP and certainly not the NAACP would find fault with. They took the slight as a personal attack on one of its members with a stellar civil rights record, and quite possibly a racist attack at that."
The letter from Ross asked for an apology. The Garcia campaign has also asked for an apology. Neither apology has been received.
After reporting on Sullivan's attacks toward Garcia two weeks ago, Sullivan continued to double down on his sexist comments but eventually locked his Twitter feed after push back. He has since re-opened his account.
Thanks to an aging population and recently expanded social welfare programs, federal spending is set to explode in coming decades, driving debt up, and damaging U.S. economic growth, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
In it's December 4, 2013 "Overview of the Federal Budget," the CBO notes that while the historic averages for federal spending and taxes (as a percentage of gdp) are just 21 and 17.9 percent today, both are set to rise substantially in the coming decades. By 2023, the CBO projects that federal spending will eat up more than 22 percent of gdp, while federal taxes will come to more than 19 percent of gap.
The growth in federal spending is driven entirely by social welfare programs. Defense spending is actually set to decline from just over 4 percent today to less than 3 percent by 2023.
Social Security and government health program spending (like Obamacare) are the real drivers of future federal deficits. As this next chart shows, Social Security and health welfare spending take up just 9.5 percent of gdp today. By 2038, that number is set to jump to 14.2 percent.
Unless taxes are hiked drastically above historically sustainable levels, the federal government is set to drown the U.S. economy in debt. The CBO says such high levels of debt will cause "crowding out of saving and investment" that "lowers future output and income."
"The ability of the government to respond to future challenges," will also be "reduced" according to the CBO, and "the risk of a sharp jump in interest rates" will be "heightened."
The CBO sees three options:
You know what he said. And now, it seems, he’s decided to tender his resignation.
Here’s the statement he emailed to Mediate:
After making an on-air apology, I asked for permission to take some additional time out around the Thanksgiving holiday.
Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of MSNBC, I have tendered my resignation. It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments.
I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewers – who are the smartest, most compassionate and discerning of all television audiences. I would also wish to express deepest gratitude to my immediate colleagues, and our contributors, all of whom have given so much of themselves to our broadcast.’
Mediate also reports that MSNBC is expected to release an official statement later today. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: MSNBC president Phil Griffin released this statement (via Mediabistro):
“Martin Bashir resigned today, effective immediately. I understand his decision and I thank him for three great years with MSNBC. Martin is a good man and respected colleague – we wish him only the best.”
Americans’ appraisal of what the U.S.’s role in the world should be has shifted dramatically since Pew first began conducting their surveys, most noticeably during the Vietnam War and after the invasion of Iraq commenced:
According to Pew’s pollsters, however, the public hasn’t been this skeptical of foreign interventionism since they first started conducting the survey nearly a half century ago:
The public’s skepticism about U.S. international engagement – evident in America’s Place in the World surveys four and eight years ago – has increased. Currently, 52% say the United States “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” Just 38% disagree with the statement. This is the most lopsided balance in favor of the U.S. “minding its own business” in the nearly 50-year history of the measure.
After the recent near-miss with U.S. military action against Syria, the NATO mission in Libya and lengthy wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, about half of Americans (51%) say the United States does too much in helping solve world problems, while just 17% say it does too little and 28% think it does the right amount. When those who say the U.S. does “too much” internationally are asked to describe in their own words why they feel this way, nearly half (47%) say problems at home, including the economy, should get more attention.
That being said, Americans are hardly in favor of isolationism:
But the public expresses no such reluctance about U.S. involvement in the global economy. Fully 77% say that growing trade and business ties between the United States and other countries are either very good (23%) or somewhat good (54%) for the U.S. Just 18% have a negative view. Support for increased trade and business connections has increased 24 points since 2008, during the economic recession.
Why are Americans increasingly unwilling to support the U.S. taking on a more “active role” in the world? War fatigue, mostly:
Finally, despite repeated assurances from various quarters that after the president was elected in 2008 the world would look at the United States, er, more favorably, that much-hoped-for outcome has largely proven to be an illusion:
An even larger majority says the U.S. is losing respect internationally. Fully 70% say the United States is less respected than in the past, which nearly matches the level reached late in former President George W. Bush’s second term (71% in May 2008). Early last year, fewer Americans (56%) thought that the U.S. had become less respected globally.
Foreign policy, once a relative strength for President Obama, has become a target of substantial criticism. By a 56% to 34% margin more disapprove than approve of his handling of foreign policy. The public also disapproves of his handling of Syria, Iran, China and Afghanistan by wide margins. On terrorism, however, more approve than disapprove of Obama’s job performance (by 51% to 44%).
Democrat Congressman: I Am Paying More For Insurance Under Obamacare...And It's A Good Thing | Greg Hengler
EXCLUSIVE: Democrat Who Attacked Conservative Marilinda Garcia Has History of Unhinged Behavior | Katie Pavlich