When a DC Circuit Court of Appeals panel released its Obamacare-related decision earlier this week, the Left's self-appointed "wonk" class kicked into damage control overdrive. The three-judge panel ruled that the 'Affordable' Care Act's explicit language proscribed the distribution of subsidies to anyone who did not enroll through state-based marketplaces. The fallout of this decision, if it's upheld down the line, is that consumers in the 36 states served by the federal exchange are ineligible to receive taxpayer-supported tax credits to offset the law's high premiums. This outcome would wreak havoc on the law's sustainability. Obamacare's text couldn't be clearer on this particular point, as even the Fourth Circuit Court, which reached the opposite ultimate conclusion, admitted; the limitation in question appears repeatedly in the legislative language. Many Obamacare supporters have insisted that this was an oversight. A drafting error. A typo. And conservatives raising this point are off their rockers, they sneer. One of the most influential players in this dispute is Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who is considered by many to be the architect of the law, and who told the New York Times, "I know more about this law than any other economist." He's filed amicus briefs in the relevant cases confirming liberals' assertions that it was never anyone's intention that only state-based exchange enrollees are eligible for taxpayer subsidies. Arguments to the contrary, he's said, are "screwy," "nutty," "stupid," and "desperate." In case he wasn't making himself clear, Gruber appeared on MSNBC this week and said this:
“Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the 'federal' states.”
Literally. He went on to decry suggestions to the contrary as "criminal." QED, right? Let's go to the video tape. Here's Gruber, who "knows more about this law than any other economist," explaining how the law he helped write and promote in 2012. The clip begins with his recent answer transcribed above, followed by his 2012 analysis:
"If you're a state and you don't set up an exchange, that means your citizens don't get their tax credits." He affirmed conservatives' argument in 2012 by sharing his own expertise about the law as it's written. Then, when his own explanation became politically problematic, he reversed positions, shamelessly arguing that "literally" nobody had ever intended to make the case that he himself had explicitly laid out. Who's the "criminal," again? The Left, gobsmacked by this discovery, cast about for answers, and Gruber gave them one this morning. It was comically pathetic:
I honestly don’t remember why I said that. I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it...My subsequent statement was just a speak-o—you know, like a typo.
A "speak-o." That's a new one. He was just confused, you guys. He accidentally said the wrong thing. He was "speaking off the cuff." People make mistakes. But do they make "off the cuff speak-o mistakes" repeatedly, and in prepared remarks? Additional audio from a separate 2012 Gruber speech has surfaced:
"Finally, the third risk, and the one folks aren't talking about, which may be most important of all, is the role of the states...Will people understand that gee, if your governor doesn't set up an exchange, you're losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens."
Not only did he offer this analysis at least twice, he emphasized the subsidy "risk" as an under-reported, highly important point. This man is a liar. And one of his prominent defenders has also admitted on tape that misleading the public about Obamacare's contents is justified in order to "win." Prominent Democrats agreed. For the humiliated Left, Gruber has gone from the gold standard witness on this question to an afterthought. Goalposts, shifted:
The ACA was the most debated and discussed piece of legislation in a generation. Find me a legislator saying what Gruber said. Go.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 25, 2014
They said it in the legislation, champ. MT @chrislhayes Find me a legislator saying what Gruber said. Go.— jon gabriel (@exjon) July 25, 2014
Yep. It was in the bill, for which hundreds of Democrats voted. The House version included broader verbiage, but once Scott Brown got elected, Democrats didn't have the votes to revise their legislation. They had to embrace the Senate-passed bill, which specifically barred subsidies for consumers in states that hadn't set up their own marketplaces. One last point: Philip Klein worries that if the court's decision holds, it will create headaches for Republican governors who will come under intense pressure to set up Obamacare exchanges. You're heartlessly taking away people's healthcare! Ramesh Ponnuru isn't so sure that the politics would cut that way. Democrats are solely responsible for the mess they've made, and bitter attempts to blame Republicans for the law's myriad failures have thus far fallen flat.
Kelly Terry-Willis, the sister of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, is endorsing State Treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey for Arizona Governor on behalf of her family. Her brother Brian, a highly trained BORTAC agent, was murdered in December 2010 by Mexican bandits carrying weapons from Operation Fast and Furious.
Terry-Willis released a statement supporting Ducey and expressed confidence in his ability to secure the southern border with Mexico.
“Our family understands the dangers of an unsecure border – our Brian died fighting to secure it. Thankfully, Arizona has the chance to elect a governor who also understands the dangers of an unsecure border. Someone who will stand up for what is right and do whatever it takes to get the job done. That next governor is Doug Ducey. My brother was a fighter and so is Doug," Terry-Willis said. “Doug is a strong advocate for a secure border and stands firmly behind every agent who places their life on the line to protect our country. The federal government hurt our family. A state government, led by Doug Ducey, will help yours -- and our out-of-control border. In the years since Brian’s death, my family has sought out strong leaders with sound moral character and the ability to affect change. One of those leaders is Doug Ducey, and my family and I wholeheartedly endorse him as the next governor of Arizona.”
She will also appear in a new video ad for the candidate which will start airing over the weekend in the Grand Canyon State.
“No family should have to endure what the Terry family has been through,” Ducey said in a statement. “I have nothing but respect and gratitude for Kelly and her entire family, and I’m honored and humbled to have their endorsement.”
Ducey is the first political candidate the Terry Family has endorsed since Brian's death. According to Real Clear Politics, Ducey is ahead in the primary by two points against five other Republican candidates.
Despite an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border, President Obama is set to announce a major expansion of his already liberal executive amnesty program, according to multiple White House friendly sources.
On July 3, National Journal's Major Garrett reported:
Obama told the groups what they had been dying to hear—that he was going to condemn House Republicans for inaction and set the most expansive legal course permissible to beef up border security, slow deportations of noncriminal aliens, and provide legal status to millions of undocumented workers—all by himself. ... Obama made it clear he would press his executive powers to the limit. He gave quiet credence to recommendations from La Raza and other immigration groups that between 5 million to 6 million adult illegal immigrants could be spared deportation under a similar form of deferred adjudication he ordered for the so-called Dreamers in June 2012.
Yesterday, Time Magazine's Alex Altman reported:
When President Obama issues executive orders on immigration in coming weeks, pro-reform activists are expecting something dramatic: temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for perhaps several million undocumented immigrants. ...It’s hard to pin down how many people this would cover; it would depend on how the administration crafts the order. But the numbers are substantial. According to the CBO, there are an estimated 4.7 million undocumented parents with a minor child living in the U.S., and 3.8 million whose children are citizens. Around 1.5 million undocumented immigrants are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, but have been unable to gain legal status themselves.
And Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown adds today:
The president has suggested privately that he would not go as far as extending temporary protections to all 11 million undocumented immigrants who would have qualified under the Senate bill. Instead, he’s weighing how to provide relief to subsets of the population based on family ties, longevity in the country or employment background. It’s unclear where he’ll draw the line, but advocates expect him to go far based on his initial statements that he wants to max out his legal authority.
All of these actions would, of course, be a huge flip-flop for Obama who has been claiming for months that his June 2012 DACA program was the absolute legal limit of how far he could stretch his executive powers.
Of course this would not be the first time Obama flip-flopped on the extent of his executive immigration powers. For the first three years of his presidency he insisted he did not have the legal authority to end deportations unilaterally.
“This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is not true,” Obama told Hispanic journalists at a White House roundtable in November 2011. “The fact of the matter is there are laws on the books I have to enforce. And there is a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and comprehensive immigration reform passed by perpetuating the notion that somehow by myself I can just go and do these things.”
But Obama's June 2012 DACA order did exactly that: functionally turning the DREAM Act legislation into executive action reality.
Then in 2013, when activists pushed Obama to expand DACA, Obama insisted, "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws."
Why has Obama changed his mind on the limits of his executive power so many times?
Time's Altman explained:
Despite the short-term political consequences, in the long run a bold stroke could help cement the Democratic Party’s ties with the vital and fast-growing Hispanic voting bloc. And it would be a legacy for Obama, a cautious chief executive whose presidency has largely been shaped by events outside his control. In the case of immigration, he has the capacity to ease the pain felt by millions with the stroke of a pen.
Damn the rule of law. All glory to Obama's legacy and the Democratic Party's emerging majority.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput announced today at a conference in Fargo, North Dakota that Pope Francis has accepted his invitation to come to Philadelphia in September 2015 to attend the World Meeting of Families. Chaput's announcement confirmed rumors that the Supreme Pontiff was coming to the United States. The World Meeting of Families is an event held every three years by the Pontifical Council of the Family.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. confirmed that the Bishop of Rome was indeed coming to Philadelphia for the event, and was also mulling offers to visit other major cities on the East Coast during his trip.
Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Friday that Pope Francis has expressed "his willingness to participate in the World Meeting of Families" in Philadelphia, and has received invitations to visit other cities as well, which he is considering. Those invitations include New York, the United Nations and Washington.
The World Meeting of Families drew over a million people in 2012 in Milan, Italy for a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. It is likely the crowd in Philadelphia will be even larger, considering Pope Francis' popularity in the United States.
Personally, I'm pretty excited for Pope Francis' first trip to the United States since his election. I'm very curious about what he will have to say at the event, especially considering that this year's theme is the family's intrinsic value for society. In a time of rapidly falling birthrates and marriage rates, I wonder what Pope Francis will suggest as a possible solution.
As Katie Glueck of Politico wrote last Sunday, the faithful liberals who attended Netroots Nation last week are eating up the messaging national Democrats are spewing into the airwaves:
Party leaders have been pushing messages about economic fairness as they look ahead to what will drive midterm turnout — and with this crowd, at least, it’s resonating.
Issues such as raising the minimum wage, ensuring “equal pay” for women and, more broadly, reducing income inequality all played well here.
In an interview, Mary Burke, who is running for governor against Scott Walker in Wisconsin, also pointed to reproductive and voting rights as issues that could drive Democrats to the polls in an off-year. Perhaps the biggest applause line in Warren’s speech came when she melded anti-Wall Street talk with blasting the Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Hobby Lobby case, which will allow some private companies to opt out of covering birth control.
Of course, they did. Netroots is the liberal equivalent to our Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Yet, let’s focus on the Burke part for a second.
Hot Air’s Noah Rothman aptly noted the role single women could play in the midterm elections; these ladies could seriously ruin GOP plans to retake the Senate. Then again, the projected turnout rate for unmarried women isn’t good; a one-third drop from 2012 levels.
Wisconsin is one gubernatorial race where single women could deliver the deathblow to incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker, who’s trying to recover from a ludicrous witch-hunt regarding his campaign finance operations during his 2012 recall election that has since been squashed by the courts.
But what about the working class vote? In fact, this bloc of voters has just as much sway, if not more so, than single women in national elections. Molly Ball of the Atlantic wrote yesterday that, “for the past decade, the working-class vote has determined whether the country swung toward Democrats or Republicans.”
It seems even the unions aren’t too optimistic about this year’s midterm elections. Ball spoke with AFL-CIO political director Mike Podhorzer, who compiled the data with working class voters and found that the GOP wins voters making over $50,000 frequently, while Democrats have a lock on voters making under $50,000. But, the margin of victory is volatile with this bloc of Democratic voters, where a victory by a 10-point or 20-point margin dictates how elections are won, according to Ball:
In 2004, Democrats won the working-class vote by 11 points; George W. Bush was reelected. In 2006, Democrats won the working-class vote by 22 points and took the House and Senate. In 2008, Democrats won by 22 points again, and President Obama was elected. In 2010, the margin narrowed to 11 points, and Republicans took the House back. In 2012, Obama was reelected—on the strength of another 22-point margin among voters making under $50,000.
So, how are things looking this year? Even union man Podhorzer acknowledges that this year will be friendly to elephants.
51 percent of voters making less than $50,000 plan to vote for Democrats, while 40 percent plan to vote Republican. (The rest are undecided, and the GOP wins the more-than-$50,000 vote 49-44.) That's exactly the same 11-point margin that has meant Democratic doom in every election since 2004.
Democrats, Podhorzer said, still need to find a way to frame the election in terms of "who's on your side." They haven't done it so far. If they can't, Podhorzer said, "This is going to be another Republican year, in a powerful way."
By powerful, we can assume he’s envisioning – to his horror –Republicans taking the Senate and increasing their majority in the House. With ISIS wreaking havoc in Iraq, Israel duking it out with Hamas (again), Ukrainian separatists allegedly shooting commercial airliners out of the sky, and the media reporting how Romney was right about Russia back in 2012, it’s looking more likely that this effort to get messaging on track isn’t going to happen soon.
Plus, the Obama administration has to deal with legal challenges to Obamacare, which conservatives have been successful in slowly chipping away key portions of the law in the courts; the latest victory being Halbig v. Burwell.
Oh, and the health insurance premium figures are to be released in the fall of this year, in the days leading up to Election Day.
Kristen Bell, known for her roles in the television series “Veronica Mars” and for voicing Anna in last year’s smash hit “Frozen,” teamed up with FunnyorDie.com to film a Mary Poppins spoof about increasing the minimum wage. Instead of the joyful nanny we all know and love, this Poppins is a disgruntled employee who demands a raise - or she'll fly back from where she came.
Singing to the tune of “Spoonful of Sugar,” Bell changed the lyrics a bit:
“Just a three dollar increase can make a living wage…I don’t get these birds for free.”
Then she had this exchange with her reflection, which seemed to be against a wage increase:
"Are you a Republican?"
"Well, I do like a good tea party."
Although this politically active Poppins thinks she is fighting for workers’ rights, a few inconvenient verses she left out go something like this:
“Small businesses are the least able to absorb such a dramatic increase in their labor costs...These proposals do not incentivize growth or hiring – they make it nearly impossible."
Or how about this little ditty:
“Raising the minimum wage raises the hurdle a worker must cross to justify being hired.”
Long story short: This Mary Poppins needs a Spoonful of Reality.
This isn't the first time "Funny or Die" has used celebrities and "humor" to espouse a liberal message. In September of last year, Jennifer Hudson filmed a parody of the TV show "Scandal" about Obamacare called "Scandalous," in which she concluded that all of her clients' issues could be solved by the president's health care law.
Watch their latest unfunny video below. Please excuse the language at the very end:
Last week, I ventured into a sea of liberalism at Netroots Nation, which was held at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. It was a buffet of liberal issues: LGBT issues, workers rights, water rights, social justice, abortion, single-payer healthcare, and many more that would drive ordinary conservatives insane.
Yet, on the issue of transgender rights, especially the right for them to serve in our military openly, the conference was less than enthusiastic as proven by the scarce attendance at this panel.
In the program given to us at the registration desk, this panel is described as such:
Today, it is outdated military policies – not the law – that ban transgender people from serving and forces their discharge if they are found out. Despite changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which removed “gender identity disorder” as a mental illness, the U.S. military has not updated their policies. Service members are still discharged with this discredited diagnosis. Drawing on lessons learned from the campaign to repeal [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] DADT, and the model for open transgender service in other counties, this session will explore the path toward full equality.
So, why do transgender Americans want to serve (quietly) in an institution hostile to them?
Allyson Robinson, a transgender veteran and LGBT activist, noted that the military is still a great opportunity. It provides health care, housing, and a chance to serve one’s country. It’s a great job. She also said that good job opportunities are two to five times harder for transgender Americans to find.
The other reason transgender Americans join the military is family tradition. Robinson alluded that this was her reason for signing up, as her family had a long history of serving in the military that dates back to the Revolutionary War.
Kayla Williams, a cisgender veteran, or someone who associates with the gender assigned at birth, served in Iraq described the “austere” conditions she lived in at times during her deployment. She said she took hormonal birth control to regulate her menstrual cycle.
“No one wants to see a woman change her tampon in a sandstorm,” she said. Williams added that the military was accommodating and capable to handle her needs.
Fiona Dawson, host and producer of Transmilitary; a show about transgender military lives, served as the panel’s moderator and asked another transgender veteran, Landon Wilson, who was born female, but transitioned to male, about the military providing treatment for his needs.
“A hormone is a hormone is a hormone, alright,” he said. “When you break it down really and – trans-hormones are no different than non trans-hormones so if we have a guy in the military who was born male, lives as male, and his testosterone is low; what’s the difference in somebody who is a trans-man who’s testosterone is really low who needs that same hormone? There isn’t one.”
Dawson asked if these treatments could be taken into – and administered in – austere environments, Wilson said absolutely.
I had to leave the room due to an emergency phone call, but I was able to catch Williams declaring that “this is an incredibly important human rights issue and it’s time for everyone in the progressive community and national security community to come out and speak out on full equality for trans-personnel.”
But, as Robinson noted, this fight is different; there needs to be more awareness. She recollects how in the fight to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Congressman, Senators, and their staffs count the number of postcards, phone calls, and constituent visits they receive on issues. But, at the Pentagon, they couldn’t care less about constituent services.
Nevertheless, Robinson told the audience that contacting their representatives is key, as is sharing, liking, and retweeting what she, and other organizations devoted to this cause, disseminate on social media. It’s to build awareness.
“I don’t know about you, I’m constantly hearing big applause from the room across the hall, right? There’s a lot of people in that room – um, look around [observing the virtually empty room]; this is the situation that we deal with,” said Robinson.
Sue Fulton, an army veteran who graduated West Point in 1980, is also fighting to make the U.S. Military more LGBT-friendly at an organization called SPART*A. She said networking with fellow members in this community is essential. It offers a base of support, but more importantly; allows this movement to obtain facts on the ground. It allows them to get the stories and bring them – anonymously – to the people who make the decisions.
Fulton acknowledged that she was a little surprised by the amount of transgender Americans serving in the military who are coming out to their fellow comrades and commanding officers and not experiencing harsh resistance.
“There’s surprisingly less resistance – in general – than we may have expected a few years ago…there’s a growing understanding of what this is about,” she said.
The panel ended with something that has always plagued progressive/Democratic politics since George McGovern’s 1972 presidential bid; the accusation that left-wingers are anti-military and soft on defense.
Well, some things never change.
Dawson noted how groups advocating for open trans-service in the military are met with anti-military and anti-war comments from transgender Americans on social media.
Robinson declared she is a proud progressive, but said, “We assume that we all think exactly the same on every issue, right? And, the fact is, of course, we don’t…I think that if we’re going to be about anything it shouldn’t be about marginalizing people, right? If we’re going to be a movement about anything, we should be a movement about – where everyone is free to talk about what they believe and to be part of what we’re doing where we have agreement.”
This may come as a shock to these folks, but conservatives are also for not marginalizing people and we love debate.
Robinson claims there are 15,000 transgender Americans serving in the U.S. Military.
In the wake of the tragic shelling of a UN school that left fifteen people dead, Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, went on Erin Burnett's show on CNN last night to remind the rest of the mainstream media – and the world – that the UN Secretary General mentioned that these schools are being used by Hamas to store rockets, thus becoming "potential military targets" and placing UN personnel and innocent Palestinians in harm's way.
He slammed CNN for omitting this aspect in their reporting of the conflict saying, "I've been listening for two hours of reports on CNN. I've seen split screens, horrible pictures, horrible pictures that any decent human being would be horrified by – I have not heard a single person say what I just said to you now. And, I think that that does a disservice to your viewers to not give them the context they need to make these judgments. Hamas is placing missile batteries in schools, in hospitals, in mosques – and there must be outrage by the world at Hamas to end this."
H/T (Washington Free Beacon)
According to a new CNN poll, more than one-third of American voters want to see President Obama impeached. In 2006, just 30 percent of voters wanted to see President George W. Bush impeached.
35% want Obama impeached, with nearly two-thirds saying the President should not be removed from office.
There's an obvious partisan divide, with 57% of Republicans but only 35% of independents and 13% of Democrats backing a move to impeach Obama.
The poll's release came one day after the House Rules Committee approved – along a party line vote – a resolution authorizing Speaker John Boehner's lawsuit against the President. The GOP controlled House is expected approve it next week.
Boehner and House Republicans plan to sue Obama over his health care law. They claim he violated the Constitution by circumventing Congress and changing the law's employer mandate on his own.
By a 57%-41% margin, Americans say House Republicans shouldn't file the suit. As with the question on impeachment, there's a wide partisan divide over the lawsuit.
The majority of voters disagree with calls from people like Sarah Palin for President Obama to be removed from the Oval Office.
One of the most important numbers in the poll has to do with President Obama's executive overreach as 45 percent say he has gone too far.
When it comes to expanding the power of the presidency, has Obama gone too far? Forty-five percent say yes, with three in 10 saying the President's actions have been about right, and 22% saying he hasn't gone far enough.
You can see the entire poll here.
As the terrorist group ISIS continues its brutal takeover of Iraq, Christians have been given an ultimatum: convert to Islam or be killed.
Iraqi Christians are begging for help from the civilized world after Mosul, the northern city where they have lived and worshiped for 2,000 years, was purged of non-Muslims by ISIS, the jihadist terror group that claims to have established its own nation in the region.
"By 12 noon on Saturday, the Christians -- all of them -- left the city," Yousif Habash, an Iraqi-born bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church, told FoxNews.com.
Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, included 60,000 Christians in 2003. By last month, the number had dwindled to just 35,000. It now stands at zero, according to Ignatius Yousef Younan III, patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church.
Thousands of Christians have fleed and the situation is being described as a genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Last night Fox News' Sean Hannity interviewed Christian Kaldo Oganna, who is living in Iraq.
"Our people are under the threat of killing, ethnic cleansing," he said. "We are all in fear. The Jihadis are going to attack."
Oganna begged for condemnation of the violence and begged the United States to stop ISIS before things get worse. The entire interview is worth your time.
The White House response to the persecution and genocide of Christians in Iraq, and in the Middle East as a whole, has been nothing short of pathetic and unacceptable.