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Heather Ginsberg - Republican Governors Hit Obama Administration on Medicare Advantage Rates
Posted: 4/18/2014 5:45:00 PM EST

In a new poll out yesterday we see that Americans are becoming less trusting of President Obama, and it seems there may be a new reason for many to worry about his honesty. At least three major governors are willing to step up and call out the president for his lies.

Governors Rick Perry, Rick Scott and Bobby Jindal all authored a letter together to the president about his latest act of political theatre. The Obama administration recently announced that the Medicare Advantage rates would experience a slight pay bump next year. But according to several insurance analysts, plan rates are expected to drop as much as 3.5 percent.

In their letter, the governors wrote, “This is on top of the 6 percent cut to fiscal year 2014 payments. Collectively, these cuts will significantly harm America’s seniors.”

Medicare Advantage is the private plan that offers Medicare benefits. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week that 2015 reimbursement rates would increase by .4 percent for Medicare Advantage. This announcement went against previous plans to cut funds to Medicare Advantage. This program provides coverage to almost 30 percent of all Medicare recipients.

If the planned cuts had actually gone into effect, it was expected that seniors would face premium increases and benefit reductions of $35 to $75 per month.

In their letter, the governors called on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to work with Congress in order to prevent any plan cuts. It is expected that this current “pardon” for the Medicare Advantage program will be short lived.

Hopefully the governors’ letter will have some sort of impact on the way policymaking goes in the future. Perhaps democrats will learn that protecting the elderly community is not an option. Their benefits need to be protected.

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Christine Rousselle - ABC Refers to Chelsea Clinton's Pregnancy as American "Royal" Baby
Posted: 4/18/2014 4:20:00 PM EST

Chelsea Clinton announced yesterday that she is expecting her first child with her husband Marc. While the majority of reactions to this news were positive, ABC took things to a whole other level when Good Morning America host Bianna Golodryga proclaimed that Americans now get to look forward to the birth of "their own royal, or, rather, presidential baby."

CBS had similar rhetoric, although stopped short of equating the birth of Bill and Hillary's first grandchild with the birth of the future King of England. Prince George of Cambridge is third in line to the throne and will become king following the death or abdication of his father, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Chelsea Clinton's baby, despite having a former U.S. president and Secretary of State as grandparents, is not assured of any kind of power.

By comparison, George Bush's daughter Jenna Bush Hager's pregnancy announcement was widely ignored by the mainstream media, despite also belonging to a family political dynasty.

Chelsea Clinton's baby is due later this year.

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Leah Barkoukis - Glenn Beck Announces Big Movie Production Plans
Posted: 4/18/2014 2:38:00 PM EST

Conservative radio and television host Glenn Beck will soon be making his mark in the film industry—and he’s already developing three original stories that will be made into movies.

“Everybody thinks they know who I am because of my stint on Fox — that was two years of my life,” Beck said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m much more into culture than I am into politics, and that’s where I intend on making my stand.”

Nearly three years after leaving Fox News, the controversial conservative radio host and media entrepreneur is ramping up a film division at Mercury Radio Arts, the parent company of his popular radio show and digital media operation TheBlaze. Beck, 50, tells THR he has been refurbishing The Studios at Las Colinas, a 72,000-square-foot facility in Irving, Texas, where such films asJFK and RoboCop and TV shows including Prison Break andWalker, Texas Ranger have been shot. "We're getting it ready for some big plans," he says of the property, which he purchased in June.

Beck says he is developing three original stories as theatrical films -- one set in ancient history, one in modern history and a third he considers "faith-based" -- and has optioned several other ideas, some of which could be adapted into VOD features. He adds that he has purchased rights to his 2008 best-seller The Christmas Sweater back from Sony and will turn the story into a movie for television or theatrical release.

The Christmas Sweater is a semi-fictionalized recounting of a 12-year-old Beck celebrating his last Christmas with his mother before she died. He says his later real-life problems with drugs and alcohol (he's been sober since 1994) can be traced back to that Christmas.

"The meaning of The Christmas Sweater is that there are second chances," says Beck. "It is based not only on my childhood but a dream that I had as an adult after I sobered up."

While big plans are clearly in the works, it was too soon for Beck to discuss specifics, such as who will be involved in producing the films and which artists will end up telling the “great stories that aren’t typical.”

What is clear, however, is that he’s actively veering away from politics with this new endeavor. “We're beginning to agree that Republicans and Democrats suck -- they've built this machine to grind people into the ground. I hate this stuff,” Beck told The Hollywood Reporter. “I hate politics. I hate politicians and I feel like I'm wasting my life. Don't we all know what's happening? George W. Bush was taking us down a road, and Barack Obama is taking us down that same road. What difference does it make? I don't want to waste my life anymore."

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Katie Pavlich - Report: Chicago's Top Cop Cooking the Books on 'Declining' Crime Rate
Posted: 4/18/2014 2:10:00 PM EST

Since the beginning of 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy have been touting a declining crime rate in the Windy City, but according to a new report by Chicago Magazine, they may be cooking the books.

"City leaders manipulated crime statistics to create the appearance of a rapidly decreasing rate of crime."

Last weekend in Chicago, 36 people were shot over a two day period.

At least 36 people were shot in Chicago, four of them fatally, in as many hours over the weekend, with more than half of the shootings occurring over a half-day period stretching into early Sunday.

Officers responded to at least 27 incidents, starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the West Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side involving an attack that left a 17-year-old girl dead and two other people wounded, police said. There were also fatal shootings in the South Shore neighborhood Friday night and the Washington Park neighborhood early Sunday, both on the South Side.

It looks like it's going to be another bloody summer in the city with some of the strictest gun control law in the county.

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Sarah Jean Seman - Poll: Only 4% of U.S. Adults are Newly Insured, Half Choose Obamacare Alternative
Posted: 4/18/2014 1:25:00 PM EST

Only four percent of Americans are newly insured this year, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. Even more interesting, is the fact that nearly half of the newly insured chose to get their insurance outside of the Obamacare exchanges:


These findings are based on interviewing with more than 20,000 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from March 4-April 14. Gallup asked those who have health insurance if their policy is new for 2014, and if so, whether they had insurance last year and if they got their new insurance through a federal or state health exchange.

Overall, 11.8% of U.S. adults say they got a new health insurance policy in 2014. One-third of this group, or 4% nationally, say they did not have insurance in 2013. Another 7.5% got a new policy this year that replaced a previous policy. The rest either did not respond or were uncertain about their previous insurance status.

The key figure is the 4% who are newly insured in 2014, which most likely represents Americans' response to the individual mandate requirement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This estimate of the newly insured broadly aligns with the reduction Gallup has seen in the national uninsured rate from 2013 to the first days of April 2014. However, the calculation of the newly insured does not take into account those who may have been insured in 2013 but not in 2014.

The ACA envisioned that the new healthcare exchanges would be the main place where uninsured Americans would get their insurance this year, but it appears that a sizable segment of the newly insured Americans used another mechanism. These sources presumably include employee policies, Medicaid, and other private policies not arranged through exchanges.

Interesting. So when is Obama's vision of his law providing healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans supposed to come to fruition? It's seem even when the White House makes something mandatory, extends the deadline for months, and fines individuals for not complying, it still can't seem to get the result intended.

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Guy Benson - Surprise: Another Major Hillary Donor Pleads Guilty to Illegal Fundraising Charges
Posted: 4/18/2014 12:01:00 PM EST


I say "another" because this is the second such guilty plea in the span of five weeks. First, the latest development:


A wealthy hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser who supported Hillary Clinton for president pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he secretly funneled more than $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions to three unnamed candidates and coached someone to lie about it. An informant caught Sant Singh Chatwal on tape in 2010 explaining that he believed his illegal fundraising bought him access to people in power. Without the contributions "nobody will even talk to you," Chatwal said. "That's the only way to buy them, get into the system." Chatwal entered the plea to evading contribution limits and witness tampering in federal court in Brooklyn as part of a plea deal...Court papers allege that between 2007 and 2011, Chatwal used his employees, business associates and contractors who worked on his hotels to collect contributions from straw donors in Queens, Long Island and elsewhere. He then arranged to pay the donors back, a violation of the election laws. As part the scheme, an unnamed business associate submitted a bill to Chatwal for $104,745 in 2011 for purported work done for one of Chatwal's companies. Prosecutors allege that $69,000 of the total actually was reimbursement for money the associate had raised via straw donors.


In a moment of candor, caught on tape, this guy explained that throwing stacks of money at powerful politicians is the "only way to buy them, get into the system." Without your checkbook, "nobody will even talk to you," he lamented. Really? Even within the party that routinely prattles about the "corrosive influence of money in politics," and slanders Republican donors? Perish the thought. At first, I thought I'd read about Mr. Chatwal's illegal conduct back in March. But then I realized that was a story about a different deep-pocketed Clinton contributor who admitted to breaking campaign finance laws:


A major Democratic donor pleaded guilty on Monday to funneling millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations to federal and local politicians, including an unnamed 2008 presidential candidate believed to be Hillary Clinton...According to prosecutors, Thompson funded a $600,000 shadow campaign “in coordination with and in support for a federal candidate for president of the United States.” The charges did not name the candidate. Last September, the Washington Post reported that Thompson allegedly paid a marketing executive “more than $608,000 to hire ‘street teams’ to distribute posters, stickers, and yard signs beginning in February 2008 to help raise Clinton’s profile during her primary battle with then-Sen. Barack Obama.”


And while we're on the subject, how about one more? I don't think there's been any definitive connection proven between Hillary Clinton and this criminal donor just yet, but he's certainly been pumping gravy into the correct political party's coffers:


The co-owner of a luxury car dealership in La Jolla has been fined $80,000 for funneling illegal contributions to the 2012 campaigns of San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis and ex-Mayor Bob Filner, the city's Ethics Commission announced. In an agreement with the commission, Marc Chase, 52, co-owner of Symbolic Motor Car Co., admitted that he laundered money from Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura into the mayoral campaigns of Dumanis and Filner. Azano was a major customer of Chase's company. Chase served as a "straw" donor to hide Azano's name. Dumanis was defeated in the primary. Filner was elected mayor in the November runoff. Chase laundered about $165,000 into the campaigns, as well as to the county Democratic party, according to the commission. Election law forbids contributions from foreign nationals.


But what's most important to remember is that the "un-American" Koch brothers are "trying to buy America."

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Kevin Glass - When Economic Conservatives Come Out Against Tax Breaks
Posted: 4/18/2014 11:30:00 AM EST
The U.S. tax code is an overcomplicated mess. Despite most Americans feeling like it's pretty easy to do, each taxpayer takes an average of 13 hours to do their taxes. This is highlighted by a chart from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, based on Joint Economic Committee on Taxation data, on the number of temporary or expiring tax provisions in the code:

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The conservative Club For Growth, a pro-economy advocacy organization, may come out against renewing these tax breaks. Former Congressman Chris Chocola, who is now the President of the Club For Growth, has said that they might score votes for temporary tax cuts as negative votes:

This is all a mistake. Congress needs to clean up the tax code and lower marginal rates across the board, but tax-extender legislation delays any serious reform. Congress should let the extenders expire permanently, and the Club for Growth, the free-market organization I run, intends to oppose the package. If a vote occurs, we'll likely include it on our annual congressional scorecard, which goes out to more than 100,000 of our members.

Many tax extenders are government spending disguised as tax breaks, such as a three-year depreciation for racehorses. Others amount to a kind of earmark: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) just added the credit for Broadway plays. Tax-extender legislation is also the occasion for campaign contributions, as lobbyists donate to ensure their special treatment continues. Recently, a reporter tweeted a picture of the Senate Finance Committee markup of the tax extenders bill. The room was packed. It filled up so quickly that some lobbyists had to watch the proceedings in the hallway on their iPads.

There's widespread disagreement on what the Congressional Budget Office has characterized as "spending through the tax code," which Chocola notes here is "spending disguised as tax breaks." Jeff Sessions took issue recently with the definition, saying that "when you allow a person to keep money that they earn... I don't believe that's spending by the United States government." The Heritage Foundation's J.D. Foster has called the elimination of tax expenditures as a "third wave of tax hikes."

Chocola has aligned the Club For Growth against these temporary tax breaks, however, and deigned a lot of them as "spending through the tax code." The Club For Growth joins other center-right organizations as standing against many of these temporary tax cuts. Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Tax Foundation have both previously joined the fight against these temporary tax breaks.

Chocola's introduction to his WSJ op-ed lays out some of the more egregious tax cuts in the temporary extenders legislation:

A $250-a-year subsidy for those who commute to work using New York's "bike share" program. Breaks for Broadway plays like "Of Mice and Men" starring James Franco and Chris O'Dowd, up to $15 million per production. A $71 million benefit for Nascar facilities. Billions in credits for the wind-energy industry.

And the CRFB laid out a breakdown of where these tax breaks are going:

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Cortney O'Brien - Gosnell Movie Exposing Late-Term Abortionist Becomes Most Successful Indiegogo Film Ever
Posted: 4/18/2014 10:20:00 AM EST

First, the gruesome story was ignored by the media. Then, the crowdfunding website Kickstarter refused to host a movie about it. Now, all those obstacles are in the past. Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, along with producer Magdalena Segieda, launched a crowdfunding campaign to expose the radical late-term abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell just a few weeks ago, yet they've already made movie history:

Gosnell, a made for TV project on the doctor who is America's most prolific serial killer, has just smashed through the $900,000 mark - overtaking the previous record holder which had raised $898,000.

The need for this film is understated. Gosnell's grotesque actions in his dirty abortion clinics would make anyone's stomach turn. He was convicted in the deaths of three babies born alive and acquitted in the death of a fourth. Shamefully, the mainstream media decided to not treat this story as headline news, perhaps because the details would taint the precious "right" to abortion. While restlessly reporting on the Republican "war on women," they missed the real war on women being waged in Gosnell's "House of Horrors."

The fact that this film has already broken funding records, however, proves that people want to hear this tragic tale. Segieda said as much in a new press release:

"This sends a message to the media and Hollywood that they need to stop ignoring stories that don't match their political beliefs. By helping Gosnell smash these records the public are making a very strong statement about their dissatisfaction with media bias."

These bold producers aren't resting until they hit the $2.1 million mark. Help them get there: Gosnell Movie.

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Daniel Doherty - National Poll: Half of Respondents Say They're "Less Likely" to Vote for Another Bush
Posted: 4/18/2014 9:00:00 AM EST

As if his emphatic support for both Common Core and amnesty wasn’t hard enough for conservatives to swallow, a recent Rasmussen poll indicates that Jeb Bush might have a serious problem on his hands if he runs for president in 2016. Namely, 50 percent of likely voters say they’re “less likely” to vote for him for reasons beyond his control:

Fifty percent (50%) of Likely U.S. Voters said in a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey last month that they are less likely to vote for Jeb Bush for president in 2016 because his father and brother have already served in the White House.

Fourteen percent (14%) said the Bush family's presidential legacy makes them more likely to vote for the former Florida governor. Thirty-four percent (34%) say it would have no impact on their voting decision. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Clearly, there are other matters Jeb must also consider before making up his mind. For example, Politico reported earlier in the week that family issues will almost certainly impact his decision:

Republican donors and operatives are chattering about Bush’s publicity-shy wife, so worried she isn’t on board with a 2016 White House run that they’re urging people in the family’s orbit to make the case.

Columba Bush has long been deeply averse to the spotlight, especially after an embarrassing encounter with U.S. Customs while her husband was still in office.

Donors also wonder whether Bush is willing to subject his family and their personal lives to the inevitable scrutiny that comes with a national campaign. Two of his children have been in the news in past years for arrests linked to drug problems and public intoxication.

Is running for president really worth the grueling schedule, the personal attacks, the time spent away from home, and the constant and at times unfair media coverage? These are questions every presidential hopeful must answer -- and answer honestly. Plus, with Christie’s stock on the rise and his image improving, fundraising and securing endorsements could only prove more difficult for Bush over time, as they both represent the moderate -- or, if you prefer, the establishment -- wing of the party.

The consensus from inside Florida is that Bush will run and Sen. Marco Rubio (a close political ally and would-be establishment rival during the primaries) will bow out. Assuming Christie jumps in and Rubio instead runs for re-election, then, it’ll be Bush vs. Christie (and perhaps Walker) fighting for the centrist/moderate/establishment vote before facing down a Tea Party challenger. As Allahpundit recently sketched out, Jeb’s path to the nomination isn’t exactly impossible to imagine if he runs -- that is, if everything goes according to plan. But the question is, will he?

If he continues to poll this well in Iowa (of all places), I suspect he will.

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Leah Barkoukis - Bloomberg's New Anti-Gun Group Out with First Ad: 'Are Your Children Safe?'
Posted: 4/17/2014 8:13:00 PM EST

As Katie reported on Thursday, former-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving $50 million this year to help build a new "gun safety" group and campaign, Everytown. As my colleague Bob Owens over at Bearing Arms notes, "The prevailing theory behind the effort seems to be an attempt to market gun prohibition as “gun safety,” while attempting to destroy the number one gun safety organization the world has ever known, the National Rifle Association."

The group came out with its first big ad, and it’s exactly what one would expect of an umbrella group that houses gun control organizations like Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns—it pushes all the emotional hot buttons in the gun control debate.

It’s safe to say that for this ad at least, Bloomberg would agree with the NRA about responsible gun ownership, which is something that is important to advocate. But that misses the point here, as IJR explains:

The goal [of Everytown] is to create a grassroots network of concerned mothers, mayors and Hollywood celebrities that can work to persuade Congress as effectively as the pro-gun lobby.

The difference is while groups like the NRA want to protect the rights of responsible gun owners, Everytown wants to redefine them.

They want to attack the 2nd Amendment by having gun owners register their firearms, ban ‘assault’ weapons, and make carrying guns on school, church and playground property illegal.

Since none of the measures these gun control groups are advocating would do much in the way of preventing a situation like the one in the ad from happening, what’s with the ad then? Scare tactics right out of the gate? You betcha.

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