July 31, 2015

IG: After Billions In Loans, Almost All Obamacare Co-Ops Were In The Red After Obamacare’s First Year

Almost all of Obamacare’s landmark health insurance co-ops are in financial trouble.

The co-ops were invented by the health-care law — they’re private nonprofits that were awarded a total of $2.4 billion in loans from the federal government, in order to establish nonprofit competition to private health insurance companies. Most of the 23 Obamacare co-ops failed to meet their own enrollment and profitability expectations in 2014, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General — and 21 of 23 totaled up a net loss for the first year of Obamacare’s operation.

That’s to be expected in their first year of operation, according to CMS, but 19 of the 23 nonprofits’ losses exceeded their own projections for the first year. Four co-ops performed so badly that the agency charged with overseeing both the health-care law and the co-ops, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, put them on enhanced oversight or corrective action plans, and two additional co-ops were given low-enrollment warning notifications. but CMS did not establish any criteria or guidance for the fledgling companies to determine whether a co-op was ultimately sustainable at all, according to the report.

The IG report follows independent figures which found that 22 co-ops had reached net losses by the end of 2014. Thomas Miller, a resident health care fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, crunched the numbers in June and told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the net losses reached a record $614 million for 2014. 

Read the entire article

July 30, 2015

White House refuses to remove IRS chief

President Obama has no intention of removing the embattled head of the Internal Revenue Service, a White House spokesman said Wednesday.

"Commissioner [John] Koskinen is a man of the highest integrity with a steadfast commitment to public service during difficult times," said Eric Schultz, deputy White House press secretary. "His decades of experience turning around both public and private institutions continue to make him the right person to lead this agency."

The White House's defense of Koskinen came two days after Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee publicly called for Koskinen's removal.

Twenty-one members of the committee sent a lengthy letter to the president outlining evidence that Koskinen had provided false testimony, presided over the destruction of evidence and failed to adequately search for requested documents.

Read the entire article

July 29, 2015

Israeli Spy Sentenced To Life In Prison For Espionage Will Be Released

The United States Parole Commission announced Tuesday that Jonathan Pollard, a spy sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for sending classified documents to the Israeli government, will soon be released.

The date of his parole was scheduled long in advance, but it was up to the government panel to decide whether to extend his punishment, The New York Times reports. The commission voted unanimously in favor of release.

For 30 years, Pollard has sat in a North Carolina prison, after he was caught shipping suitcases of sensitive documents to the Israeli government. At the time, Pollard was a civilian Navy analyst. He tried to attain asylum at the Israeli embassy but was spurned. The FBI then arrested him. Israel initially refused to say he was their spy, but in 1998, finally admitted to the relationship.

As the Department of Justice has no objection, Pollard will walk November 21.

Read the entire article

July 28, 2015

House Halts Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization

Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy will assure that the Export-Import bank will remain unauthorized, the Associated Press reports.

McCarthy said Monday that he will not pick up the Senate highway bill in the U.S. House. The Senate sought to renew the Ex-Im bank’s charter in its bill, but McCarthy beat them by passing an $8 billion highway bill through the House without the Ex-Im Bank’s renewal. McCarthy said that he will not budge on the issue.

The Ex-Im Bank, installed by President Franklin Roosevelt to serve as a national export credit agency, has become a breeding ground in recent years for global crony capitalism, according to the House Oversight Committee’s Rep. Jim Jordan and other congressional investigators.

“Majority Leader McCarthy did the right thing,” said Dan Holler of Heritage Action.

Read the entire article

July 27, 2015

McConnell Angers Conservatives By Blocking Defunding Planned Parenthood, Kate’s Law

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has never been a favorite of conservatives. Those who see him as a “squishy” compromiser more interested in placating President Barack Obama and K Street lobbyists than the Republican base had more fuel tossed on that fire when he blocked amendments to the Highway Bill Tea Party members wholeheartedly support.

One amendment would defund Planned Parenthood, the nationwide abortion provider which receives more than a half billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies annually. McConnell has previously said he supports defunding Planned Parenthood, which was recently the subject of undercover sting videos in which executives with the organization can be heard discussing the sale of organs from aborted babies. But the leader blocked an amendment to the Highway Bill that would have defunded the organization.

McConnell used a tactic called “filling the tree,” made popular by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid when he was majority leader to block Republicans from being able to offer amendments to Democratic bills. “Filling the Tree” is when the allotted time for amendments is loaded by the leader, generally with small, insignificant measures favored by the majority leader, who controls the process, crowding out everyone else.

“Filling the tree” was roundly decried by Republicans when Democrats controlled the Senate because it blocked their ability to offer any amendments, popular on a bipartisan basis or not, to any legislation the Senate was considering. McConnell ran and was reelected to his Senate seat on returning the Senate to “regular order” after years of tight control and power consolidation under the Democrats. Now he is using the same tactic against his own party.

Read the entire article

July 24, 2015

GOP Elites Plot to Bar Frontrunner Trump From Debate

As if we need more proof of how tone deaf and self-destructive GOP elites can be towards their most reliable voters, the New York Times reports that at a weekend meeting of the Republican Governors Association there was an attempt by some “donors and operatives” to come up with a plan to bar current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump from the presidential debates.
Many national Republican officials are increasingly resigned to Mr. Trump’s looming presence. At a meeting of the Republican Governors Association this week in Aspen, Colo., donors and operatives mused about how to prevent him from hijacking the debate. 
One idea that came up was to urge three leading candidates — Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor; Mr. Walker; and Senator Marco Rubino 
 — to band together and state that they would not participate in any debate in which Mr. Trump was present, using his refusal to rule out a third-party bid as a pretext for taking such a hard line. The thinking, according to a Republican involved in the conversations, was that the lesser-funded prospects who have been eclipsed by Mr. Trump would follow suit, and the TV networks airing the debates would be forced to bar Mr. Trump in order to have a full complement of candidates. 
But none of the campaigns have shown any appetite for such solidarity, for reasons ranging from their strategic interests and not wanting to make Mr. Trump a martyr, to fear of making an enemy of Fox News, the preferred cable network of conservatives and the host of the first debate.
Luckily for the GOP cooler heads prevailed but that the idea was even floated at this level is indicative of the Republican Establishment’s most glaring flaw.

The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in 4 of the last 5 presidential elections. The only election won was the re-election of a sitting president (Bush in ’04) during a time of war. Not only are these geniuses still in charge, these geniuses seem to believe that disenfranchising 25% of Republican primary voters (Trump’s support in the most recent national poll) through elite shenanigans is a smart strategy.

Read the entire article

July 23, 2015

NY Times Helps Planned Parenthood By Muddling Facts

The New York Times has recently put its full editorial weight behind Planned Parenthood, releasing an editorial decrying the “campaign of deception” launched by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and other actors in the anti-abortion movement. But in pushing to defend Planned Parenthood, the Times appears to be getting at least one key fact wrong.

As one of the country’s most widely-read newspapers, the Times carries significant weight, and Planned Parenthood has been eager to tout its backing:

But how much can the Times’ account be trusted? A closer look shows the paper has repeatedly made a statement that appears to be false in a manner that discredits the Center for Medical Progress.

On two different occasions, writers for the Times claimed the CMP withheld key information from the public until they came under fire from Planned Parenthood.

In its Wednesday editorial, “The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood,” the Times claims that CMP began its campaign by releasing a single nine-minute video. With that that nine-minute video, the CMP concurrently uploaded the raw video of over two hours, but according to the Times, it “[was only] released by the Center for Medical Progress after complaints by Planned Parenthood.”

Read the entire article


July 22, 2015

Second Amendment group rips Obama's latest plan to limit gun rights

A pro-gun rights group is warning that the Obama administration's plan to restrict firearms to Social Security recipients who may be mentally impaired is just the latest plan from President Obama to infringe on people's Second Amendment rights before he leaves office.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that the administration is considering a move to block gun ownership rights from people if they are deemed to be incapable of handling their own financial affairs. Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), said that change could "disqualify millions of people from owning firearms and might prevent many others from seeking help."

"It's unconscionable that someone who might have problems balancing a checkbook or managing their finances would suddenly find himself or herself stripped of their right to keep and bear arms," Gottlieb said in a press release Monday. His group is "dedicated to promoting a better understanding about our constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms," according to its website.

According to the LA Times report, the administration wants to take information from the Social Security Administration on who can no longer handle their financial matters, and report it to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is designed to prevent the sale of firearms to drug addicts, felons, illegal immigrants and others. Opponents of that move say the administration is making the mistake of saying that people in the former group are dangerous.

Read the entire article

July 21, 2015

Federal Judge Says He’s ‘Mystified’ By State Department’s Hillary Email Stonewalling

A federal judge issued a stern warning to the State Department in a recent hearing on Hillary Clinton’s emails for a lawsuit brought by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch.

“If documents are destroyed between now and August 17, the government will have to answer for that, and, you know, if they don’t want to do anything out of the ordinary to preserve between now and then, they can make that choice,” U.S. District Court judge Rudolph Contreras said in a July 9 hearing.

Contreras was getting up to speed on Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department for records showing how it vetted projects involving Clinton’s family charity, the Clinton Foundation.

Judicial Watch has demanded emails sent between Clinton’s top State Department aides. Those aides used Clinton’s private email server, hosted on the domain clintonemail.com. They were also heavily involved in Clinton’s non-government projects. While two of the aides have reportedly turned over their emails, one has not.

Read the entire article

July 20, 2015

Fight For Access Pits FBI, Justice Against Federal Watchdogs

In August, 47 federal watchdogs signed a letter to Congress saying department and agency officials were blocking access to information they needed to do their jobs. It’s now almost a year later and not much has changed.

The Peace Corps inspector general still can’t access data on sexual assaults against Peace Corps members abroad, and officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are claiming attorney-client privilege to block the IG there from records.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials are now cooperating with the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, but FBI employees still say DOJ’s IG investigators have no legal right to certain records like electronic surveillance and wiretap material.

Adding to the tension, the Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Attorney General’s Office of Legal Counsel whether the FBI or the DOJ IG is right, in a fight pitting FBI and DOJ officials as a whole against DOJ IG investigators.

Read the entire article

July 17, 2015

Amid DOJ Investigation, FIFA Hires Firm With Close Ties To The Clintons

Under investigation for corruption and bribery by the U.S. Justice Department, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, has hired a consulting firm with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

According to the BBC, FIFA tapped Teneo Holdings, a New York-based firm, to help limit any financial damages it could face because of the investigation. Teneo was co-founded in 2011 by Doug Band, a longtime Clinton associate and aide, and Declan Kelly, who worked as the U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland in Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

“FIFA has retained global advisory firm Teneo to work across operational and reputational priorities,” a FIFA rep told the BBC.

In May, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced charges against 14 FIFA officials accused of taking bribes in exchange for favorable votes regarding TV contract awards and for the opportunity to host the 2010 World Cup.

Read the entire article

July 16, 2015

Boehner launches congressional probe of Planned Parenthood

Top Republican leaders in the House have instructed relevant committees to investigate Planned Parenthood, after a video was made public indicating that the group may be selling fetal body parts for profit.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a statement saying that "nothing is more precious than life," and that if Planned Parenthood is really working to "monetize an unborn child," then "we must all act."

"As a start, I have asked our relevant committees to look into this matter," Boehner said in a statement. "I am also calling on President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to denounce, and stop, these gruesome practices."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a separate statement that he is ordering House committees to "investigate inhumane abortion practices," which surfaced Tuesday in an undercover video recorded by a pro-life organization.

"I speak for all of my colleagues when I say I was deeply disturbed by reports and video of an organization engaging in such grotesque and inhumane practices." McCarthy said. "I will be working with House Committees to investigate the claims made by the employee. We should all agree that no life is expendable, and our society has no place for such callous indifference to life."

Read the entire article

July 15, 2015

Hundreds Of Released Criminal Immigrants Committed Crimes Again

The Obama administration released 30,558 criminal aliens with a total of 79,059 convictions in fiscal year 2014, and nearly 1,500 of those released went on to commit more crimes ranging from vehicular homicide to sexual assault to child abuse.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte released these numbers during an oversight hearing on the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided the data to the committee, which showed that of the 30,558 released immigrant criminals, 1,423 have since been convicted again.

Republican Congressmen have criticized the new DHS policy of not prioritizing deportation of fugitive immigrants if the order for their removal was issued before January 1, 2014.

Read the entire article

July 14, 2015

GOP candidates starting to grumble over 'top 10' debate rules

Some of the Republican presidential candidates who are likely to be cut from the first debate on Fox are starting to grumble about the Republican National Committee's debate rules, calling them a "miscarriage," "dumb" and "lousy."

In the last few days, both South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum have taken public shots at the RNC for rules it has approved for the first debate. Those rules say only the top 10 candidates will make it, and Graham and Santorum are at risk of not being allowed on the stage.

On Monday, Santorum said at an event in Washington, D.C., that it was a "miscarriage" for the RNC to agree to that format.

In an interview Friday on Fox News, Graham said the qualifications to make it onto the stage are "dumb" and "lousy."

"I don't mind weeding out the field over time, but a national poll tests celebrity," Graham said at the time.

But so far, officials at the RNC don't seem to care.

Read the entire article

July 13, 2015

Obamacare Chief Nominee Pounded On Conflicts Of Interest

Liberals and conservative have grave ethical concerns about Andy Slavitt, a former health care executive President Barack Obama nominated as his top administrator at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Slavitt’s confirmation hearings could serve as a high-profile flash point about the revolving door that exists between the government and the healthcare industry, especially in Obamacare.

The hearings could also give Congress to peek into the close links between the Obama administration and United Health Group, Slavitt’s former employer and the nation’s largest health insurer.

The White House went out of its way to bury the Slavitt announcement, issuing an after-hours statement with his name the last of four on the nominee list.  The other names included minor appointments for an AMTRAK board position and another for the U.S. Mint.

Read the entire article