Guy Benson - Healthcare Expert: Obamacare's 'Quiet Summer' is About to End in a Big Way
Posted: 9/10/2014 12:35:00 PM EST

Dan wrote up yesterday's Washington Post/ABC News poll, which was jammed with crooked numbers for President Obama.  Most striking was the (30/55) majority deeming Obama's presidency "a failure," along with the prevailing opinion that he's divided the country, and his unsightly leadership score.  The survey also included a dreadful (38/56) presidential approval rating on the implementation of Obamacare; support for the law itself was also underwater, with an outright majority opposed, despite this polling series' silly question wording that omits any mention of 'Obamacare' or the 'Affordable Care Act.'  A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll produces similar findings, with support for the president's signature domestic accomplishment swamped by opposition. It's been this way for years, across hundreds of national surveys.

One major reason for the enduring opposition is that the law has violated virtually every major promise erected in dishonest ideologues' sales pitch.  Another is that an ongoing parade of unpleasant developments continues to make headlines, including the recent revelation that was hacked last month.  Apologists can cherry-pick useful data points to try to convince the public that Obamacare is reducing premium costs and driving down costs, but that's simply not the case.  Individual market premiums exploded in 2014, and are expected to grow by roughly eight percent in 2015 (with many consumers confronting double-digit spikes) -- to say nothing of high out-of-pocket costs and narrow coverage networks. Overall health spending continues an upward climb.  The law was billed as a dramatic premium reducer that would also bend down the so-called "cost curve."  Healthcare industry expert Bob Laszewski is out with a must-read post on next steps for Obamacare.  He argues that the law may have been largely out of the news for the last few months, but a fresh round of cancellations and the coming open enrollment period are about to change all that:

To say this fall's 2015 Obamacare open-enrollment has the potential to be problematic is an understatement. The backroom is not built yet––a year and counting after it should have been. How many people are enrolled in Obamacare? Without a government to insurance company accounting system yet built, no one knows. While the open-enrollment is now scheduled to begin until 11 days after the November election there will be plenty of renewal and cancellation letters going out in October––not the least will be more pre-Obamacare policies being cancelled this year now that their one-year extension is up––carriers aren't necessarily allowing policies to be extended further...Does this all sound confusing? Just wait until we approach the next open-enrollment with millions of people hearing about all of this complexity and having just four weeks to get their enrollment validated for January 1. The Obamacare anxiety index is going to be off the charts well before November 15th.  Add to all of this bigger deductibles for 2015 (those go up with cost trend as well as the rates) and more narrow networks as well as generally larger rate increases for the plans that got the most enrollment and there will be lots to talk about...The last couple of months have been very quiet for Obamacare. That is about to end.

Click through for a thorough debunking of recent pro-Obamacare spin on "baseline plan" premiums, as well as a reminder that many new Obamacare consumers -- a significant percentage of whom have dumped their coverage -- will have to either change their plans again for face much higher rates next year.  More upheaval is on the way.  Numerous polls have consistently found that roughly twice as many Americans say they've been personally hurt by Obamacare than helped.  Most consumers, however, have responded that they haven't been impacted one way or another.  That, too, will be changing for millions in the coming months and years.  The Washington Post reports:

Large businesses expect to pay between 4 and 5 percent more for health-care benefits for their employees in 2015 after making adjustments to their plans, according to employer surveys conducted this summer. Few employers plan to stop providing benefits with the advent of federal health insurance mandates, as some once feared, but a third say they are considering cutting or reducing subsidies for employee family members, and the data suggest that employees are paying more each year in out-of-pocket health care expenses. The figures come from separate electronic surveys given to thousands of mid- to large-size firms across the country by Towers Watson, the National Business Group on Health and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, consulting groups that engage with businesses on health insurance issues. Bracing themselves for an excise tax on high-cost plans coming in 2018 under the Affordable Care Act, 81 percent of employers surveyed by Towers Watson said they plan to moderately or significantly alter health-care benefits to reduce their costs.

Higher costs and reduced benefits are on the way for many who are among the the large majority of Americans receiving health coverage through their employers.  And I'll once again direct your attention to this news package, which quotes a prominent Obamacare designer and supporter cheerfully predicting that 80 percent of employer-based plans will "disappear" within the next ten years:

An independent study cited in the piece projects that number at 90 percent.  The White House knew this was coming, and Senate Democrats voted down a Republican effort to reinforce the president's "keep your plan" promise, which continue crashing down around consumers for years to come.  Bottom line: Think the Obamacare mess is in the rear-view mirror, or that you've escaped its impact?  Just wait. I'll leave you with one additional polling point:

Katie Pavlich - When Obama's DOJ Isn't Monitoring Reporters, His IRS is Auditing Breitbart News
Posted: 9/10/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

Remember when President Obama's Department of Justice got caught secretly monitoring the phone calls and emails of reporters from the Associated Press, Fox News and many other news outlets? Remember when DOJ attorneys classified Fox News' James Rosen as a criminal conspirator in court documents, monitored his work and personal emails, read his work and personal emails, monitored his phones, seized phone numbers, monitored his movements and even monitored the phones to his parent's house on Staten Island.

Now Obama's IRS, the same IRS embroiled in controversy over the targeting of conservative groups, is auditing Breitbart News

The company that runs the conservative news site says the IRS has selected the network for an audit, in a move company executives suggest is politically motivated.

Breitbart News Network, a California-based company which runs several conservative websites, says the IRS recently audited its 2012 financial information.

"The Obama administration's timing on this is exquisite, but try as they might through various methods to silence us, we will only get more emboldened,” Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network, said in a written statement.

Larry Solov, president and CEO of Breitbart News Network said: "We stand ready to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service on its audit of our company, but this will not deter us in the least from continuing our aggressive coverage of this president or his administration.”

A random audit of a website that does extensive investigative work exposing corruption in the Obama administration? Coincidence? Hardly.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has already sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about the audit, calling it a direct assault on free speech and the First Amendment, adding that moves like this used to be considered unacceptable.

I write to express deep concern over the recent announcement by Breitbart News that the Internal Revenue Service recently notified the Breitbart News Network, LLC that it would be subject to a far-reaching, burdensome, and open-ended audit.

As you know, the Breitbart News Network LLC is a conservative-leaning press outlet. It has editors and reporters who cover daily political news and regularly breaks stories that are critical of the Obama Administration's policies. To conduct this audit, Breitbart News Network, LLC was asked to provide the IRS with all of its organizational documents, financial records, W-2s, W-4s, 1099s, and K-1s filed, personal income tax returns for each member of the company, payroll tax forms, information regarding properties and assets acquired by the company, bank statements, and array of other records documenting revenues, expenses, and depreciation costs.

This media audit, coupled with the recent proposal of 49 Senate Democrats to amend the Constitution to give Congress plenary power to regulate political speech, paints a disturbing picture of a coordinated assault on the First Amendment.

In another time, under another Administration, the decision to audit a conservative news organization might not have risen to a worrisome level of concern. However, given the IRS's disturbing track record of illegally targeting conservative organizations-including the IRS recently paying a $50,000 settlement for having wrongfully leaked a conservative group's confidential tax information-and the persistent refusal by the current Department of Justice to meaningfully investigate or prosecute those crimes, the decision to audit Breitbart News Network, LLC appears highly questionable.

For the IRS to behave like a partisan political organization, targeting media organizations whose views differ from the President's, would represent a gross abuse of power. It would undermine the statutory mission and integrity of the IRS. And it would likely subject IRS employees to criminal prosecution.

As Andrew Breitbart is famous for saying: War.
Daniel Doherty - Oh Snap: John Tierney Lost His Primary
Posted: 9/10/2014 11:00:00 AM EST

Who is Rep. John Tierney? Well, one might say he is a nine-term, possibly corrupt Democratic congressman from Massachusetts. On the other hand, one might also say he is the first Massachusetts lawmaker to lose a congressional primary since 1992.

The Boston Globe reports:

Seth Moulton, a Harvard Business School graduate and Marine veteran, on Tuesday became the first Massachusetts Democrat in 22 years to oust a sitting congressman from his own party, decisively defeating embattled nine-term Representative John F. Tierney and setting the stage for an unpredictable general election in November.

Tierney, the veteran North Shore congressman, has been politically vulnerable since 2010 when his wife, Patrice, was convicted on federal tax charges in connection with her brothers’ illegal offshore betting operation. But after twice prevailing against Republican challengers, he was felled in Tuesday’s primary by a fellow Democrat who appealed to voters’ frustration with intransigence in Washington and made a compelling case for change.

This, too, might also have had something to do with it:

But both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald editorial boards, which rarely agree on anything, endorsed Moulton, both mentioning the scandal in their endorsements and both saying it's time for a change.

Arguably, two of the Bay State’s most influential newspapers essentially told voters to back Tierney’s opponent, Seth Moulton, instead of him. His loss thus ends what can only be described as the retiring congressman's long and unremarkable stint in Washington. As the Globe reports, for example, the Moulton campaign continually reminded voters that after nearly two decades as an elected representative, their opponent “passed just one bill.”

Moulton must now take on GOP hopeful Richard Tisei in the general election -- a former minority leader in the Massachusetts state Senate and a former candidate for lieutenant governor. As you might recall, Tisei nearly beat Tierney in 2012. How, then, one might ask, are his prospects faring now that Tierney’s not the nominee?

Politico has some insight:

Moulton, 35, will face moderate, openly gay Republican Richard Tisei, 52, in the fall campaign. Tisei narrowly lost to Tierney, who’s been plagued by a gambling scandal involving his wife and brother-in-law, in 2012. Although the race is still expected to be close, Moulton backers have argued he’s a better candidate to take on Tisei than the scandal-ridden Tierney.

That’s probably true. And yet there’s only been one poll conducted assessing this matchup. About a week ago, the Emerson College pollsters found that Moulton edged Tisei by 8 percentage points (44/36).

Still, there are at least a few caveats to consider: First, there’s obviously a dearth of polling in the race, so these top-line numbers can -- and should -- be viewed with suspicion. Second, the poll was conducted at a time when many Democrats thought Tierney was going to be the nominee. And so now that he’s been ousted, and relegated to lame-duck status, preferences could, perhaps, change over the next two months.

We’ll see.

Leah Barkoukis - HHS: Law Doesn’t Bar People From Using Welfare Benefits to Buy Legal Marijuana
Posted: 9/10/2014 10:30:00 AM EST

Sen. Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday that he will be introducing legislation to close a loophole that allows people using welfare benefits to buy marijuana.

Responding an inquiry Sessions made about the policy earlier this year, HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell said that the federal government does not have the power to stop states from allowing people to do this. While the law does provide a list of places people cannot use their benefits, marijuana dispensaries are not among them.

The Washington Examiner reports

The law was updated in 2012, prior to Colorado’s decision in May 2013 to legalize the production and sale of marijuana. The law gives HHS the power to withhold funds to states that allow people to use welfare money at liquor stores, casinos, and “establishments in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state for entertainment.”

Burwell added in the letter that “nothing in the the TANF statute or regulations precludes states from taking measures to prevent recipients from using their benefit cards at marijuana shops.”

States, Burwell added, can add language to prohibit certain expenditures and in Colorado, she added, lawmakers are examining whether to ban pot from the list of things that people can buy with welfare.

“The federal government current spends roughly $750 billion each year on means-tested welfare programs across 80 different accounts. This money is administered by a vast, sprawling bureaucracy with little oversight and no moral vision. Surely we can all agree that the guiding principle ought to be that benefits are reserved for those in real need,” Sessions said in a statement Tuesday.

“In recognition of this common-sense objective, Congress has already passed a law which states that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits may not be withdrawn from certain places like liquor stores. But I was surprised to learn that HHS says it ‘has no authority to prescribe policies and practices… to prohibit the use of TANF benefit cards at marijuana stores.’ I intend to introduce legislation to address this problem. Once the loophole is closed, I will also be following up with HHS to make sure they are taking the steps necessary to stop this dangerous misuse of taxpayer-funded benefits,” he added.

Matt Vespa - Cosmopolitan Magazine Unveils First String Of Endorsements
Posted: 9/10/2014 9:45:00 AM EST

As Guy mentioned on Monday's episode of Fox News’ Outnumbered, Cosmopolitan magazine is weighing in aggressively for the midterm elections. Of course, the editorial board is only endorsing liberal candidates. The magazine has a significant audience, which could complicate conservative efforts to reach single women; it’s a must regarding electoral math. Should conservatives start women’s magazines in order to break into this quasi-monopoly liberals have with this demographic? It’s a legitimate debate, but here is the first string of Cosmo endorsed candidates, all of them–surprise–are Democrats.

In Kentucky’s senate race, Alison Lundergan Grimes is endorsed because she’s a “fearless pro-choice challenger to one of the most ruthless and powerful Republicans in the Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes is a bit of bright feminist hope in a largely red state — and although she's facing a tough race, she might just have a chance if Kentucky women turn out for her.”


McConnell, by contrast, is running on the promise of restricting abortion rights. He promised the National Right to Life convention that he would work to ban abortions after 20 weeks. McConnell also voted against the Violence Against Women Act once it contained protections for LGBT victims of violence and immigrants.

Grimes isn't a perfect candidate. She's a Democrat in Kentucky, which means she likes coal and guns (she's an NRA member who holds abysmal positions on the environment). But on those issues, she's certainly not any worse than McConnell (he has the NRA's official backing in the election), and the list of issues she's better on — health care, women's rights, immigration, the economy, marriage equality — more than points to the conclusion that, despite her drawbacks, Grimes would be far better than the five-term status quo. She's earned endorsements from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and she's recommended by EMILY's List.

Mary Burke, who’s running for governor against Scott Walker in Wisconsin, is the whole liberal package. She’s pro-abortion, against Voter ID laws, and pro-union. The editorial board thinks that Burke can bring Wisconsin “back to its roots as a state of compassionate, progressive trailblazers.”

Lastly, we have Sen. Mark Udall, who egregiously invoked the names of murdered American journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff in Colorado’s first Senate debate over the weekend. Again, he’s another candidate who represents the buffet of lefty issues that animate liberals. Following the expected demonization of his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, the reasons for Udall’s endorsement were also as expected, with the added bonus that he’s also a protector of puppies:

Udall, by contrast, is a champion of women's rights, co-sponsoring several pieces of crucial legislation, including the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act (which sought to reverse the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision that made it harder for women to access birth control). Both NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorse him.

He's also a proponent of gay rights, going so far as to write an op-ed in Politico declaring his support for marriage equality. He led the charge for same-sex spouses of veterans to enjoy spousal benefits, no matter where they live. And he has a 100 percent rating from the LGBT rights organization Human Rights Campaign.

Udall is even a co-sponsor of legislation protecting puppies.

We will see the next line-up of endorsed candidates in the coming weeks. This effort by Cosmopolitan shouldn’t be laughed at or dismissed by conservatives. It’s the war on women electoral strategy on steroids, which was very effective in 2012. Abortion, birth control, exposing phony Republican politicians, and the role Congress plays regarding their abortion rights through judicial nominations are all listed in their reasons why they’re in this fight.

While Democratic pollsters have said that such tactics are turning women off, Cosmo apparently doesn’t care.

Conservatives are still wondering what to do regarding reaching this powerful bloc of voters that could threaten Republican chances at retaking the Senate and winning the 2016 presidential election.

Townhall Magazine - The Irrelevant President
Posted: 9/10/2014 9:00:00 AM EST

The world has figured out there are no consequences for ignoring Obama. HotAir's Noah Rothman reports for Townhall Magazine. 

On a drowsy Wednesday in mid-July, President Obama appeared with little forewarning in the White House press briefing room to announce that his patience with Russia was at an end.

Putin had flagrantly ignored Obama’s demand to deescalate the situation in Ukraine for months, and the president took to the podium on that distracted mid-summer day to announce the imposition of a new round of long-awaited sanctions on a variety of Russian economic sectors.

“I’ve repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine, that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a ceasefire,” the president said. “So far, Russia has failed to take any of the steps that I mentioned.”

It was a moment that would come to represent the climax of a grand and failed experiment. The West had sought to prove that the application of “soft power” could impose rationality on a revanchist great power with expansionist aims. Within the next 24 hours, the experiment ended in the most gruesome fashion imaginable when pro-Russian separatists, using sophisticated Russian hardware, killed nearly 300 civilians when they blew Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky over Ukraine.

In the wake of the attack, Obama made only one demand: that both sides observe an immediate ceasefire so that independent investigators could access an uncompromised crash site. The fighting continued and the rebels quickly spirited bodies, plane debris, and flight recorders away from the scene of the attack.

America’s last warning for Putin was just one of many Obama had issued over the course of the crisis in Ukraine. None were observed by Russia’s autocratic president or those loyal to him.

Putin is in abundant, if not good, company. America’s allies and adversaries alike are increasingly comfortable ignoring the petitions of the 44th president of the United States and the members of his administration.

In the spring of 2013, former-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia and China not to facilitate National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s flight from American justice. Both warned of “consequences” and a “negative impact” on bilateral relations if they harbored this fugitive. Their warnings were promptly spurned.

The president warned Syria’s Bashar al-Assad of “enormous consequences” if Obama’s “red line” was crossed and chemical weapons were used in that country’s civil war. That line was crossed and no consequences followed. Conceding to the terms of a deal negotiated in Moscow, Syria surrendered some of its stockpiles of sarin nerve gas while it went on using agents like chlorine on its rebellious civilian population. Eventually, Assad turned the tide and forced anti-government militants to turn eastward into Iraq where they transformed a civil war into a regional one.

Obama warned Egypt’s military in the summer of 2013 not to overthrow the unpopular but nevertheless legitimate President Mohamed Morsi. They did just that. He later warned the coup leaders not to fire on and arrest pro-Morsi demonstrators; another warning that went unheeded.

In 2014, Obama warned outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai that his own personal safety was in jeopardy if American forces were forced to fully withdraw from his country because of his refusal to sign a status of forces agreement. Karzai balked. The administration’s response was to extend the deadline for Afghanistan’s compliance. 

Citing “fundamental changes” to the regional security situation, Japan’s government weakened it’s more than 60-year-old pacifist constitution in July allowing Japanese forces to undertake offensive military operations in defense of allies for the first time since World War II. This shift, a welcome one from Washington’s perspective, came after Obama’s warnings to China not to press its territorial claims in the South China Sea were repeatedly disregarded.

Obama warned both the Israeli government and the Hamas led government in Gaza to not escalate hostilities, which resumed in July for the first time since 2012. When hostilities escalated nonetheless, Obama offered to broker a ceasefire. He was twice ignored. According to reports, the Israeli government did not even bother to inform the president prior to commencing a ground invasion of Gaza.

That bodes ill for Obama’s 2012 warning to Israel that it should not mount a unilateral attack on Iran over that country’s nuclear weapons program. That same year, Obama warned the Islamic Republic that he had grown tired of its government’s tendency to “delay, to stall, to do a lot of talking.” On July 18, 2014, Obama ignored his own warnings when his administration again extended fruitless nuclear negotiations into the late fall.

The world’s self-interested actors cannot be faulted for merely observing that there are no consequences for defying this president. Portending grave threats to the global order, these actors have calibrated their approach to navigating the anarchic international environment accordingly.

Today, and as a result of his own chronic inaction, the president of the United States and the country he purports to lead are virtual nonentities on the world stage. •

Katie Pavlich - Brutal: NBC/WSJ Poll Shows Obama's Approval on Foreign Policy Lowest Since Taking Office in 2009
Posted: 9/10/2014 8:55:00 AM EST

Wednesday evening President Obama will address the nation about how his administration plans to handle the growing terror army ISIS. But according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, he'll be doing it without the confidence of the American people, who feel more unsafe now than they have since before 9/11/2001. President Obama's approval rating among Americans on foreign policy now sits at just 32 percent, the lowest since he took office in 2009.  Americans are also paying close attention to the news of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff being beheaded. President Obama didn't handle those murders in a presidential manner and Americans have taken notice. 

Mr. Obama has presided over a significant decline in confidence in U.S. security: The poll found that 47% believe the country is less safe than it was before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks—up sharply from 28% just one year ago.

The survey was taken Sept. 3-7, just after the beheading by ISIS of a second U.S. journalist. While those surveyed weren't asked directly about that event, the poll found that 94% had heard news of the two murders, a higher level of public attention than given to any of 22 news events the Journal/NBC News survey has tested since 2009.
Although Americans aren't confident in President Obama's handling of the current ISIS crisis, they overwhelmingly support taking out the terror army with airstrikes and believe American interests are at stake.

Obama's biggest problem philosophically also shows in this poll as people start to change their minds about the United States taking a step back from leadership on a global scale, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. 

The survey also found indications that more people were coming to believe the U.S. should play a more active role on the world stage, a shift from Journal/NBC surveys earlier this year that found war-weary Americans wanting to step back from foreign engagements.

The polling from NBC mirrors a Washington Post/ABC News poll released yesterday which showed just 43 percent of Americans see Obama as a strong leader and over half the country views him as a failure. 

His overall foreign policy ratings are his lowest yet in a Post-ABC News poll. A majority says the president is too cautious when it comes to international problems and specifically in dealing with Islamic State militants. His handling of Russian aggression in Ukraine receives somewhat better marks, but more than 4 in 10 still say he is too cautious.

Today, 71 percent of all Americans say they support airstrikes in Iraq - up from 54 percent three weeks ago and from 45 percent in June. Among those who say Obama has been too cautious, 82 percent support the strikes; among those who think his handling of international affairs has been about right, 66 percent support them.

Nearly as many Americans - 65 percent - say they support the potentially more controversial action of launching airstrikes in Syria, which Obama has not done. That is more than double the level of support a year ago for launching airstrikes to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons.

President Obama will speak Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET from the White House.

Katie Pavlich - Liberal Incest: DOJ Works With Democrats on Capitol Hill to Attack Issa, Manipulate IRS Scandal Info
Posted: 9/10/2014 7:00:00 AM EST

A letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder from Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa yesterday and first reported by Breitbart's Jonathan Strong reveals the Department of Justice works with Democrats on Capitol Hill to manipulate stories about the ongoing IRS targeting scandal. 

The short version of the story is this: Holder's high ranking communications aide Brian Fallon accidentally called the Majority Office of the House Oversight Committee on behalf of the DOJ public affairs division to talk about leaking IRS info to a few friendly reporters. Fallon wanted to leak the info before Issa had the chance to get ahead of the news, further spinning the overall scandal through the media. Fallon thought he was talking to minority staffers, Democrats working for Minority Leader Elijah Cummings, on the House Oversight Committee. Oops. More from Strong:

The aide, Brian Fallon, is a former senior aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and a well-known personality on Capitol Hill. The letter describes Fallon as “audibly shaken” when he realizes his request to leak documents to help get ahead of news stories about them was mistakenly made to the very office he was seeking to undermine. Issa believes the call was intended to be made to Democratic Rep. Elijah Cumming's staff, the ranking member on the oversight panel, the letter said.

According to the letter, Fallon – who is not named in the letter but confirmed he made the call – asked if the aides could release the IRS scandal documents to “selected reporters” to give Fallon an “opportunity to comment publicly on it.”

Fallon explained to Issa aides that the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Affairs had not permitted him to release the documents to the public and he wanted to get ahead of the story “before the Majority” – meaning Issa – could share it, according to the letter.

You can read the letter here. The latest IRS revelations include the Department of Justice hiding a key witness in the targeting scandal. 

We also know from previous reporting that during the targeting between 2010 and 2012, the IRS's Lois Lerner was in contact with Director of the DOJ Election Crime Branch Richard Pilger about bringing criminal cases against tea party groups. Lerner expressed that getting at least one person thrown in jail in over "political activity" would set an example for the rest of the groups, eventually snuffing them out. Further, the IRS is guilty of feeding Democrats like Oversight Committee Minority Leader Elijah Cummings information about tax-exempt groups they were regularly bullying in media and in public speeches.

What an incestuous mess.

Issa said he is “disturbed” by the “apparently longstanding collaboration between the Obama administration and Ranking Member Cummings' staff to obfuscate and prejudice the Committee's work through under the table coordination.”
Conn Carroll - Why Liberals Cling to the Gerrymandering Myth
Posted: 9/9/2014 8:00:00 PM EST

Mother Jones' Kevin Drum doesn't get why so many liberals insist on believing that gerrymandering is to blame for the Democrats' inability to win back the House.

"Gerrymandering is what it is," Drum writes, "The best studies I've seen suggest that it accounts for 6-8 additional Republican seats. The rest of the Republican advantage is due to the incumbency effect; self-sorting; natural Democratic clumping in urban areas; and a few other minor things."

"So: Is gerrymandering responsible for Republican control of the House?" Drum asks, "No. Is it partially responsible? Yes. What's so hard about this?"

What is so hard about this, is that the entire post-2010 Obama presidency is based upon delegitimizing Congress so Obama is empowered to expand executive power.

As Andrew Prokop details today, and others have detailed before, Obama has abused his executive powers in almost every area of government, from education, to war, to health care to immigration. "I think Democrats are going to rue the day they did not push back against Obama on these things," Mitchel Sollenberger, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, tells Prokop.

So how does Obama justify his unprecedented executive lawlessness? 

"If Congress won't act, I will," Obama has been saying repeatedly since Republicans took over the House in 2010. 

Of course, Obama is by no means the the first president to face a Congress where at least one chamber was controlled by the other party. But he is the first president to use that as an excuse to stop dealing with Congress altogether.

Crisis on the border? Obama doesn't even bother to tell Congress what legislative changes he wants

Crisis in Iraq? Zero chance Obama will seek congressional authorization for military action

Obama wants to rule by executive fiat and convincing his core supporters that Republicans only control the House because of gerrymandering makes his unilateral actions seem more justified.

That is why you see Democratic outlets like Think Progress and Slate constantly making the case that, but for gerrymandering, Democrats would control the House and Senate. But as The New York Times Nate Cohn explains, that is just not true. Even if we did somehow manage to get rid of gerrymandering, done by both Democrats and Republicans, it would actually end up helping Republicans. Cohn writes:

The partisan-blind criteria that mapmakers consider all tend to help Republicans: Following jurisdictional lines locks Democrats into cities; communities of interest tend to encourage demographically homogeneous districts; the Voting Rights Act can compel the creation or bar the dissolution of minority-majority districts; and bipartisan commissions almost always protect incumbents, who today tend to be Republican.

So by all means, let's end political gerrymandering. It may not help Democrats take control of the House, but at least Obama would have one less excuse for pretending to be king.

Sarah Jean Seman - MIT Study Suggests Marriage is Key to Closing Education Opportunity Gap
Posted: 9/9/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

“Education is the most important predictor of income today,” President Obama stated last December during his remarks on the economy. In an attempt to improve education, Obama purportedly launched Race to the Top and encouraged states to revise their standards. The trouble is, Obama, as he so often does, got the solution wrong.

The administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top Initiative reportedly encouraged states to make unrealistic goals and “failed to focus on the core drivers of opportunity gaps.” New standards set in place via Common Core have also proved ineffective, and states continue to opt-out of the government's push for a one-size-fits-all program.

So what is the answer? MIT economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman suggest that encouraging strong family units is key. According to their report “Wayward Sons: The Emerging Gender Gap in Labor Markets and Education:”

Due to lower marriage rates of less-educated males, their children face comparatively low odds of living in economically secure households with two parents present. Unsurprisingly, children born into such households also face poorer educational and earning prospects over the long term.

The percentage of births to unwed mothers has doubled in the last thirty years, the economists reported, “rising from under 20% of all births in 1980 to over 40% in 2009.”

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Curiously, while births to teenagers have decreased by 40% over the last 20 years, single motherhood across all three key demographic groups has steadily climbed. This seems to indicate some level of social acceptance.

Even more concerning is that male children born into low-income, single-parent headed-households—which, in the vast majority of cases are female headed households—appear to fare particularly poorly on numerous social and educational outcomes. A vicious cycle may ensue, with the poor economic prospects of less-educated males creating differentially large disadvantages for their sons, thus potentially reinforcing the development of the gender gap in the next generation.

Rather than focusing on creating new tools and systems for education, policy makers should focus their attention on creating incentives for the creation of strong family units.