tipsheet
Conn Carroll - Obamacare Website Sent False Data To 800,000 Americans
Posted: 2/20/2015 11:45:00 AM EST

HealthCare.gov, the website millions of Americans must buy health insurance through, sent 800,000 Americans false tax reforms that could cause victims to owe more in federal taxes. About 50,000 of these individuals already filed tax returns with the IRS, and will have to refile.

The errant in form in question, the 1095-A form, is used by individuals who receive subsidies to buy health insurance through health exchanges. The size of an individuals subsidy is determined by a combination of that individuals monthly income and the price of a "benchmark" insurance plan selected by the federal government in their area.

For 800,000 Americans, HealthCare.gov sent them the price of the benchmark plan for this year, 2015, not last year, 2014, the year for which Americans are currently doing their taxes.

So if a taxpayer thought the benchmark plan in their area was $500 a month, when it was really $400 a month, then they could be getting a $1,200 tax bill from the government.

California also had a similar problem with their state-run exchange, sending 100,000 Californians similar false data.

HealthCare.gov is the same website that failed for months when it was first unveiled in 2013, and has cost taxpayers $2.1 billion so far

Katie Pavlich - Yikes: Government Sends Wrong Tax Information to Nearly One Million Obamacare Users
Posted: 2/20/2015 11:30:00 AM EST

We all knew Obamacare would make tax season a nightmare for all of us, and it has, but the government just made it a lot worse by sending the wrong tax information to nearly one million customers. 

The Obama administration revealed Friday that it sent about 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers a tax form containing the wrong information, and asked them to hold off on filing their 2014 taxes.

Here is the long-winded, complicated and confusing explanation from Healthcare.gov

If you enrolled in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2014, you should’ve received an important tax statement in the mail, called Form 1095-A. This statement has information you need to fill out your 2014 federal income tax return.

Most people received a correct Form 1095-A. However, if we contact you because your Form 1095-A is incorrect, here's why. Some forms included the monthly premium amount of the second lowest cost Silver plan for 2015 instead of 2014, which needs to be corrected. The incorrect amount is listed in Part III, Column B of the Form 1095-A. We're working quickly to resolve this and any other issues with the 1095-A forms. This does not mean that your tax credit was incorrect; this is purely an error in what was printed on the form.

If your form is affected by this issue, you’ll get a call and email from us in the next few days, and you will get a message in your Marketplace account here on HealthCare.gov. Once you log in, you should select your 2014 application, and then select "Tax forms." You will see a message letting you know if your 1095-A form is being corrected. This is also where you will find your corrected form when it is completed. When the corrected form is ready, we’ll send a message to your Marketplace account. All corrected forms should be available by early March.

Beyond the bureaucratic, "Some forms included the monthly premium amount of the second lowest cost Silver plan for 2015 instead of 2014, which needs to be corrected. The incorrect amount is listed in Part III, Column B of the Form 1095-A," what exactly does Healthcare.gov mean when it states, "any other issues"? Will there be more? When will they find these other issues? How many man hours will it take, from federal government employees and private citizens filing their taxes, to work out these "other issues"?

This screw up comes after months of leaving sensitive user information and data open to hackers and identity thieves on Healthcare.gov and the website is still experiencing problems.

In the final day leading up to Obamacare’s sign-up deadline, the website was once again hit with technical glitches that prevented people from signing up for health insurance.
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The problems stemmed from a function on the site that verifies people’s income to determine if they qualify for federal subsidies, and if so, how much. Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the issues on Saturday, saying some people weren’t able to submit their applications because the website couldn’t verify their income.

To date, the administration has spent a total $2.2 billion to build and repair the website.

You'd think with a $2.2 billion website and 9,000 new IRS employees, this whole process would be done right the first time. But alas, big government means big problems and big headaches for people simply trying to comply with tax law.

Cortney O'Brien - NY Investigation Determines Schools Can’t Ask for Students’ Immigration Status
Posted: 2/20/2015 11:30:00 AM EST

It’s about to get a lot easier for unaccompanied minors and undocumented children to enroll in upstate New York schools. After a state investigation determined that school districts were being too harsh on potential enrollees, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other state officials are demanding they relax their regulations:

The agreement with Schneiderman and the state Education Department will require the districts to remove inquiries into citizenship and immigration status from their enrollment materials and develop new procedures to ensure immigrant students aren’t facing obstacles when they or their parents seek to enroll them in school, he said.

The Attorney General believes this is only right:

“Schoolhouse doors must be open to all students in our diverse state, regardless of their immigration status,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “More than 30 years after the Supreme Court guaranteed a free public education for undocumented children, we must do everything we can to uphold the law and ensure equal access for all our students.”

Everything to “uphold the law”? Interesting choice of words considering these school districts are potentially dealing with children of illegal immigrants. I wonder if the latter respected our rule of law when they bypassed our legal system to enter the country?

The report goes on to say that 20 districts had used enrollment materials that included unlawful inquiries, such asking for copies of Social Security cards, visa status and status as a U.S. citizen or non-citizen.

How is it “unlawful” to ensure that a student and his or her family are residing in this country legally? It seems awfully reasonable to me – not to mention fair.

It’s no surprise that an influx of undocumented children to schools has the potential to create chaos. Classrooms may not be able to cope with the unexpected size. What’s more, these children are being granted services that should be reserved for naturalized citizens. The other side of New York state had to deal with this issue last year. This snippet from the NY Post says it all:

But the costs could soar, because the youths — many of them victims of poverty and abuse — will need state-mandated English-language instruction, free or reduced-price lunch, and a range of other services, including psychological counseling, medical and dental.

Sam Pirozzolo, the vice president of the New York City Parents Union, voiced his concern on behalf of parents in the Big Apple:

“NYC public schools are already failing to meet the needs of the students they have — 70 percent cannot read, write and do math at grade level. How can they handle thousands of new students competing for the same services without things getting worse?”

Certainly, all children deserve the right to an education. Undocumented students can hardly be blamed for their parents' crimes. Yet, if parents and guardians break the law, they should not expect their children to be welcomed with open arms into schools that are already struggling to provide for legally documented students.

I hope the New York Department of Education reconsiders and reinstates these necessary guidelines and inquiries - to not do so would threaten our children’s future.

Conn Carroll - There Is No Partial Surrender On DHS Funding
Posted: 2/20/2015 10:30:00 AM EST

National Review and Karl Rove both came out with columns Thursday, offering congressional Republicans advice on how to handle their impending showdown with the White House and Senate Democrats over funding President Obama's executive amnesty.

Both National Review and Rove make the case that Republicans will lose the public relations battle if the Department of Homeland Security is not funded by the end of February. Both urge Republicans to narrow their focus to Obama's more recent Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program.

Unfortunately both also don't seem to understand the Democrats' strategy on the standoff.

Here is Rove's plan:

Republicans can now offer a rider that refuses funds for executing Mr. Obama’s directive that is under court challenge, dropping the other add-ons the shutdown caucus insisted on. This would remove the excuse of Senate Democrats skeptical of Mr. Obama’s directive. Either they act on their concerns or go on record supporting the president’s unconstitutional action.

For Republicans, this would be a chance to make their point on an issue where voters agree the president overstepped his authority. It would also give momentum to the legal challenge by indicating there is bipartisan support for reversing it.

Rove seems to be arguing that House Republicans should pass a second DHS funding bill, one that only defunds Obama's November DACA program. And, indeed, not only did the anti-DAPA amendment get more votes in the House than the anti-DACA amendment, but moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has endorsed a DHS funding compromise that just targets the new DAPA program.

The problem with this strategy is that Senate Democrats would filibuster this new DHS funding bill just as vehemently as they are filibustering the current House bill. All such a new House bill would do is show Democrats that momentum is on their side and that if they wait long enough, they will get the "clean" DHS bill they want. Republicans would have solved nothing and they would be in a weaker negotiating position.

National Review also focuses on DAPA but throws in a new wrinkle:

The House can offer to fund most of DHS in one bill, and the federal immigration bureaucracy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in another, with the latter bill blocking the president’s November amnesty. This would narrow the debate and make it much harder for Democrats to argue that the Republican plan is inappropriate or risky.

Under this strategy, the House would pass two new separate DHS funding bills: 1) a bill that funds the USCIS, the agency in charge of implementing DAPA, but that defunds DAPA; and 2) a "clean" bill for the rest of DHS.

No doubt, Senate Democrats would pocket Republicans' concession here and pass the clean DHS funding bill and Obama would quickly sign it into law. 

But what would this solve? 

The USCIS would still be facing a shutdown. True, 95 percent of all USCIS workers would still go to work under a USCIS shutdown because the agency is funded through application fees, but some key services would still stop, including the E-Verify system that is key to making sure businesses don't hire illegal immigrants. And Democrats would still be able to say that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) broke his promise to avoid any government shutdowns.

There is no creative way out for Republicans. Either they stick to their guns and demand that Democrats allow for debate on the House DHS funding bill (at which point Collins can offer an amendment narrowing the defunding to DAPA), or the House should rip off the band-aid, admit they don't have the will to check the executive branch through the power of the purse, and pass a full clean DHS funding bill.

The only thing worse then congressional Republicans failing to fulfill their oath to protect the Constitution's separation of powers, would be lie about why they were really doing.

Katie Pavlich - Obama Administration Gives ISIS The Playbook On How U.S. Plans To Take Back Mosul
Posted: 2/20/2015 9:30:00 AM EST

The Obama administration is under heavy criticism today after publishing detailed plans on the timing to retake the ISIS captured city of Mosul. More from Yahoo News

The US wants Iraq to launch its offensive to retake the strategic northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group in April or May, military officials said.

Mosul is believed to be held by 1,000-2,000 IS fighters and 20,000-25,000 Iraqi troops are needed to carry out the offensive, an official with US Central Command said on Thursday.

"The mark on the wall we are still shooting for is the April-May timeframe," the official said, adding that because of Ramadan and the increasing heat of summer, "it becomes problematic if it goes much later (than May)."

Out: Defeating the enemy In: Sending the enemy our war plans, including troop levels and timing, in advance. Unbelievable.

Last night Arkansas Senator and former Army Infantry Officer Tom Cotton blasted the administration for publishing the war plans.

"It's very mystifying why this administration would reveal potential plans to retake Mosul. If a private in Iraq had revealed this kind of planning inadvertently by leaving a plan in the chow hall or the gym, he might have faced a court marshal but it's now become a matter of policy that this administration is going to announce war plans in advance. It only increases the risk," Cotton said Thursday night on The Kelly File. 

"We are aiding an abetting the enemy. I do not understand why the President and the administration want to aid and abet the enemy," Retired Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney added. "It's going to expose our forces to risk."

The Islamic State now controls territory larger than the United Kingdom, takes in millions of dollars a day and has tens-of-thousands of fighters at their disposal.

Katie Pavlich - ISIS Continues to Directly Threaten Military Families
Posted: 2/20/2015 8:45:00 AM EST

As the Obama administration continues its sluggish bombing campaign against the Islamic State, ISIS fighters are waging a war directly on the families of U.S. military soldiers. 

Last week Angela Ricketts, the wife of an active duty military officer, received a message through her author page on Facebook. At first she assumed it was an average online troll, but after further investigation discovered the message came from an ISIS account. On the same day she received the threat, four other military wives received something similar. 

"I read the message and it was terrifying. It threatened my family, it threatened me, it threatened my husband, it said they knew everything about us and where we were and threatened us with Shariah law," Ricketts said On The Record Thursday night.  "This isn't the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and Paktika province. This isn't the desert of Iraq. This is here and this is now. This is a brand new world and how are we going to deal with it now that it's here and these threats are directed towards us?"

"Having it director towards us, it's completely new ground," Ricketts added.

Last year the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning military families not to advertise their connection to the armed forces online. 

In a joint intelligence bulletin issued overnight by the FBI with the Department of Homeland Security, officials strongly urged those who serve in uniform to scrub their social media accounts of anything that might bring unwanted attention from "violent extremists" or would help the extremists learn individual service members' identities.

"The FBI and DHS recommend that current and former members of the military review their online social media accounts for any information that might serve to attract the attention of ISIL [ISIS] and its supporters," the federal bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies said, advising that troops "routinely exercise operational security in their interactions online."

The military is taking threats from ISIS seriously and has told family members to remain cautious and vigilant.

Matt Vespa - Shakeup: MSNBC Axes Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid From The Line Up
Posted: 2/19/2015 6:09:00 PM EST

It’s official; Joy Reid and Ronan Farrow had their shows axed by MSNBC. Both Guy and Dan have reported that the network has been a disaster in the ratings for quite some time. Recently, it was reported that just 55,000 viewers from the coveted 25-54 year-old demographic were watching the liberal network. That’s a near-decade low for a news organization whose job–at times–seems to be keeping the blood pressure for the progressive base of the Democratic Party at healthy levels.

Yet, it’s not all bad for Farrow or Reid. Both haven't been fired; Farrow will serve as MSNBC’s special correspondent and host for primetime specials, while Reid will serve as national correspondent, according to Mediaite:

In addition to canceling Joy Reid‘s daytime show The Reid Report, which MSNBC sources confirmed to Mediaite earlier today, the network is also canceling Ronan Farrow’s show and moving Way Too Early’s Thomas Roberts back to a dayside role, anchoring a straight news show from 1-3 p.m. ET daily.

Neither Reid nor Farrow have been fired by the network. Reid will become MSNBC’s national correspondent, producing original reporting for on air and online programming. Farrow is expected to host a new series of primetime specials for MSNBC and will be featured as a special correspondent across the network’s schedule.

The change in daytime programming represents a conscious shift by the network away from more opinionated hosts and towards a more news-focused lineup. Following Morning Joe, José Díaz-Balart’s show will air for two hours starting at 9 a.m., followed by Tamron Hall at 11, Andrea Mitchell at 12 and then Roberts from 1-3 p.m. each day.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will fill in for Roberts on Way Too Early until a more permanent replacement is found.

The article also mentioned that Farrow’s show was getting slaughtered in the ratings by Fox, CNN, and even Al-Jazeera America.

Conn Carroll - White House Admits Obama Recovery Has Made Inequality Worse
Posted: 2/19/2015 4:00:00 PM EST

The White House Council of Economic Advisers released the Economic Report of the President Thursday, a document which noted that median family incomes are down since President Obama took office and inequality is up.

"There is no denying the strength of the aggregate recovery," the report reads, "but its benefits have not yet been fully shared with the middle class."

Not only have the "benefits" of the Obama recovery not been "fully shared," but many Americans are still worse off today than when Obama became president. 

According to the Census Bureau, median family income was $54,059 when Obama became president in 2009. In 2013, the most recent year available, median income was just $51,939, a tiny $181 increase from $51,758 low of 2012.

The Economic Report also notes that inequality has only gotten worse during the Obama recovery. "Broadly speaking, the [Survey of Consumer Finances] shows that the recovery in net worth has been uneven for households across the income distribution, as the top 10 percent of income earners have regained much of their wealth through 2013, on average, than the bottom 90 percent of earners." 

"Such an uneven recovery," the report continues, "implies that wealth inequality has continued to increase in recent years."

The report does claim that Obamacare and Obama's 2012 tax hikes have "mitigated" the rise in inequality, but no where does the report mention how Obama used distressed middle class homeowners to bailout Wall Street banks or how Obama's unemployment policies cost the economy 1.8 million jobs.

Leah Barkoukis - Leader of World's Deadliest Terror Organization Used to Be a Secretary
Posted: 2/19/2015 3:30:00 PM EST

While not much is known about the Islamic State’s brutal leader, newly released Army documents obtained by Business Insider through a FOIA request now provide a slightly closer look at the life of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before his rise to infamy. Turns out, the self-declared caliph was once a bespectacled secretary.

According to the files, al-Baghdadi was captured in the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Feb. 4, 2004, and held as a “civilian detainee” for just over 11 months. He was not considered a jihadi or member of a militia at the time, and his “civilian occupation” was listed as “Administrative Work (Secretary).”

No specific reason was listed in the files for why he was detained, but it is believed that he was apprehended while visiting a friend named Nessayif Numan Nessayif, according to Business Insider.

Al-Baghdadi was held at multiple facilities throughout his imprisonment, including Camp Bucca and Camp Adder. An unflattering prison photo shows al-Baghdadi with glasses and a receding hairline.

As of 2014, al-Baghdadi was identified as a 43-year-old married man, though his birth date was redacted in the documents, according to Business Insider.

His next of kin was an uncle, but the names of his family members were also redacted in the records.

My, how people change over time.

Guy Benson - Video: New Illinois Governor Demands Reforms as Democrats, Unions Fume
Posted: 2/19/2015 3:06:00 PM EST

Newly-elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has hit the ground running in his mission to fulfill his campaign promise of "shaking up Springfield." The state's capital is, after all, a town in dire need of leadership and root-and-branch reforms. Illinois has earned the worst credit rating in the nation, its unpaid-for government employee pension obligations are astronomical, its tax climate has chased away businesses and families alike, and the state government is unable to pay its bills. The Land of Lincoln is broke. For years, a cabal of unions, Democrats and activist judges have waged a self-interested war against fiscal sanity (when Democrats attempted to implement even a mild form of pension reform, a state judge struck it down because statists wrote public pension "protections" into the state constitution). Governor Rauner -- a successful private sector businessman -- was elected by his blue state voters to sift through the wreckage and forge a sustainable path forward. His opening salvo was an unmistakable warning shot to public sector unions, prompting hysterical shrieking from the usual quarters:

On Monday [Rauner] essentially declared war on the incredible power of public sector unions, declaring by executive order that state workers who did not want to join unions could not be forced to pay "fair share" dues. From the Chicago Tribune: "Anticipating a strong pushback from organized labor, Rauner filed a pre-emptive federal lawsuit in Chicago seeking to have his decision declared legal. But the move likely will spark additional court battles as unions quickly decried the effort as an illegal abuse of power. It's also possible Democratic lawmakers could vote to overturn Rauner's executive order. Under state law, employees can decline to join a union but are still on the hook for 'fair share' fees related to collective bargaining and contract negotiations. The idea is that if all employees are getting the benefits from a new contract, everyone should contribute to the cost. Illinois statute prohibits those fees from being used to support political activities, but Rauner contended it's nearly impossible to draw a distinction because public sector unions directly negotiate with the government."

Other state officials are refusing to implement the Executive Order until the courts rule on it.  Rauner has now introduced a budget, packed with reforms, that has Democrats and their union donors/benefactors squealing.  Here he is laying out his case before the state legislature.  His tone is calm and at times disappointed.  He's methodical and authoritative.  He invokes the basic math.  He spells out the depths of Illinois' fiscal hole, without sounding overly demagogic.  And he holds out hope for a bipartisan temporary budget fix, before warning that getting Illinois' house back in order over the long term will require massive changes to benefit structures and spending priorities.  These reforms won't impact (unrealistic) promises that have already been made, he says, but they need to be implemented for new employees and contracts.  Start four minutes in, and watch through the 27 minute mark:


We must be willing to take actions we’d rather avoid, and make decisions that may seem unpopular in the short run. The budget outlined today is the budget Illinois can afford, and that in itself is an example of “thinking anew.” Because for far too long we have been living beyond our means—spending money that Illinois taxpayers could not afford. This budget is honest with the people of Illinois, and it presents an honest path forward. Like a family, we must come together to address the reality we face. Families know that every member can’t get everything they want. But we can pay for what we need most. And we can reform our system so we are able to invest more in the future. Because the task before us is so large, all our challenges cannot be solved by a single budget. It will take time to restore Illinois to fiscal health. Now is the time to start on a responsible path after years of financial recklessness. Instilling discipline is not easy, saying “no” is not popular - but it is now or never for Illinois.

What struck me as I watched this address is how Democrats, who control both chambers and who are primarily responsible for the current crises, sat on their hands throughout most of the address. Rauner's applause lines, many of which were meant to convey the gravity of the state's unpleasant fiscal reality, were greeted with faint clapping from minority Republicans alone. One of the few sentences that elicited a positive reaction from members of the majority was Rauner's reference to tax increases (which he said are not the solution to Illinois' myriad problems, arguing that asking taxpayers for even more money would make the state less competitive and undermine public confidence).  Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass calls Rauner "Scott Walker on steroids:"

Yet these are but mere crumbs to the crusty loaf Gov. Rauner served up in his state budget message on Wednesday, a challenge to entrenched Democrats and the public unions that help elect them. Rauner pushed to move newly hired public employees into a pension system more in keeping with what taxpayers have in the private sector, rather than the old-fashioned government meat-gravy-and-more-meat-and-gravy pensions. There are thousands of state employees with six-figure public pensions, Rauner said, an unconscionable luxury while so many taxpayers wonder whether Cholula sauce will improve the dry dog food we’ll be eating when we’re old. Rauner’s budget, he said, will end “the irresponsible and reckless practices of the past, and make sure they will never happen again. We make difficult choices that no one wants to make. It is what this occasion requires."

The malignant Illinois teachers unions have already labeled Rauner's budget changes "clearly illegal," arguing that his reforms won't "solve the state's problems at all."  They have zero credibility, and must be ignored.  Rauner's budget calls for an increase in funding to education, but that's not what the union bosses are interested in.  They're focused on protecting their benefits racket that's plunged the state into chaos.  In the end, Rauner isn't exactly Scott Walker on steroids:


Bingo. He's Scott Walker without the Republican majorities. And with a more corrupt state bureaucracy. And with even more out-of-control unions. And with much, much worse state finances to clean up. Even if Rauner and Democrats come to an agreement to close this fiscal year's $1.6 billion budget shortfall, he said, the state still faces $6.2 billion in red ink next year. And then there's the issue of $111 billion in unfunded public pension obligations. Bruce Rauner is doing his best to pull Illinois back from the brink, and he'll have the selfish, status quo nihilists fighting him with brass knuckles every step of the way.

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