Summary: This is FreedomWorks first podcast discussing Telecommunications reform, which is a crucial issue for all American consumers. There is proposed legislation in Congress that will lead to more choices, lower prices, and better service in the video programming department. FreedomWorks Chief Economist Dr. Wayne T. Brough and Dir. of Public Affairs Chris Kinnan discuss this issue during FreedomWorks #1 Podcast. FreedomWorks is a nationwide grassroots organization with more than 700,000 members advocates Lower Taxes, Less Government, and More Freedom. The organization is chaired by Dick Armey and C. Boyden Gray
Fewer and fewer doctors in the US are self-employed, while more are employed by hospitals. That is a direct result of government policy, sharply accelerated by Obamacare. The trend will be damaging to American health care. It is still possible to reverse the decline, but powerful forces want it to continue. A Foolish And Dangerous Paranoia Doctors effectively can't own new hospitals any more. That's because the Big Hospital lobby convinced the leftists who designed Obamacare that physicans owning hospitals was a conflict of interest. That's right: according to that theory, the people who have devoted their lives to the study of medicine want to own hospitals so they can profit by withholding care, or by overcharging for it. The trouble with that line of reasoning is that the non-physicians in charge of hospitals and insurance companies have no such conflict. Their incentives are to provide as little care as possible while charging as much as they can. Their desire to protect their personal reputations and adherence to ethical code are not as strong as for physicians. If you could invent the kind of person to run a health care business, you would invent a physician. To reverse this, repeal Obamacare. The Costs While half of all physicians currently work for independent practices, three of four doctors hired this year will go to work for hospitals, according to one study. As Dr. Scott Gottlieb wrote last year, hospitals are on a buying binge: Doctor practices are being acquired at a rapid clip. While some physicians are choosing to sell their practices to integrated delivery systems that are provider led, the majority of doctors are selling their practices to hospitals. This should have everyone concerned. For one thing, there’s ample evidence that provider productivity declines when doctors become salaried employees of hospitals. (Some selected research, analysis, and commentary of these trends can be found here:A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H) In less urban areas, the hospital and high school can be the largest employers. That leads state and local governments to give them preferential treatment to preserve the jobs associated with them. Dr. Jason Fodeman of the Galen Institute lays out the question. Will doctors working for hospitals lead to lower costs, or higher? The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) says that the trend toward hospital-employed doctors may drive up costs because care that was once billed as physician visits will be billed at higher hospital outpatient rates—even when they occur in the same location. In addition, many hospitals charge facility fees for visits with doctors in their system. Explicit higher charges for seeing a physician in a hospital are one thing, but the real issue is the incentives doctors employed by hospitals face. As employees, they will be less efficient, subject to the bureaucratic pitfalls present in all organizations. According to Dr. Keith Smith of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, Medicare and other insurance billing issues involve bigger legal hassles for the self-employed doctor. Self-employed physicians have to comply with Medicare and Medicaid regulations, if they accept those patients, and simply filling out the forms incorrectly can lead to criminal charges. Doctors employed by hospitals don't have that worry: their organization may have to pay a fine, but no one goes to jail. But even if doctors don't take Medicare and Medicaid patients, Obamacare pushes on them more regulations. Medical practices also have the same issues as other small businesses, which are holding back hiring and changing because of the law. As The American Interest notes, despite the Obamacare sales rhetoric of lowered costs, hospital bills will be going up: On the surface, doctors taking on salaried jobs at hospitals might seem like good news for health care costs. One
Conservatives were right to warn that Governor John Kasich’s embrace of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would increase government spending and hurt Ohio’s labor force, a February 4 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report affirms. States still being pressured to take "free" Medicaid expansion money from DC should learn from Kasich's mistake. Of exploding federal spending, CBO wrote, “The increase in outlays reflects substantial growth in the cost of the largest benefit programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — and in payments of interest on the government’s debt; those increases would more than offset a significant decline in discretionary spending relative to the size of the economy.” The Obamacare Medicaid expansion will cause damage beyond further busting DC’s budget, as The Buckeye Institute, Opportunity Ohio, Media Trackers, Foundation for Government Accountability, and others explained while Kasich, a Republican, tried to ram the policy through Ohio’s legislature. “CBO estimates that expanded Medicaid eligibility under [Obamacare] will, on balance, reduce incentives to work,” the nonpartisan budget office opined, citing a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper Media Trackers called attention to last summer. CBO listed “expansion of eligibility for Medicaid” as the second most important Obamacare provision affecting the nation’s labor supply. “In particular, studies of past expansions or contractions in Medicaid eligibility for childless adults have pointed to a larger effect on labor supply than CBO had estimated previously,” CBO wrote. The left-leaning Urban Institute has estimated that 90 percent of Ohioans eligible for Medicaid under the Obamacare expansion will be able-bodied childless adults, a point The Heritage Foundation’s Ed Haislmaier made during Ohio House testimony last spring. Heritage, like every other right-of-center think tank, was ignored by the Kasich Administration and by the state’s rabidly pro-expansion press. CBO’s February 4 report also discredited assurances from Gov. Kasich that Medicaid expansion is separate from Obamacare and that Ohio would save taxpayers no money by refusing to expand Medicaid. “Medicaid spending is expected to accelerate in 2014, because about 25 states have expanded coverage significantly in keeping with provisions of the Affordable Care Act,” CBO wrote. Elsewhere in the report, CBO noted that new estimates did not take into account any “decisions by states about expanding Medicaid coverage” since last December, an acknowledgement that Obamacare’s increased Medicaid costs rise with each state that enacts the expansion. Media Trackers has sought to explain this simple fact to a seemingly indifferent press since last February. Cato Institute health policy expert Michael Cannon refuted Kasich’s position in March 2013 testimony before the Ohio House, but the media chose to ignore him. The left-leaning Kaiser Family Foundation’s cost projections from 2012 — and a direct quote from last March — also affirm that Kasich’s talking points are false, but Gov. Kasich continues to misrepresent how the new entitlement benefits will be paid for. See a list of other findings from the CBO report that are not so much revelations as confirmations of years-old conservative warnings about Obamacare. This story was originally published at Media Trackers.
Federal statistics can be easily manipulated to suit the present needs of the bureaucrats who need a certain story to be told. Imagine announcing that you're on a diet and you gain five pounds in the first month. In an effort to save face, you simply ignore any weight you gained up to age twenty when telling other people where you're currently at. That's the federal way. When the numbers can't be manipulated through mere accounting trickery, they can just be inflated through sheer confusion. Enrollment in Medicaid spiked in December, aided by Obamacare exchanges and an expansion of the government-run health coverage program for the poor in 25 states. But it was far from clear just how many of the Medicaid enrollees are new people drawn by Affordable Care Act-related initiatives, as opposed to re-enrollments, according to a leading health-care analyst who called the data released Wednesday "confusing." By the end of December, more than 6.3 million people were determined to be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, the program covering children, through state-run agencies and state-based Obamacare exchanges, according to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report released Wednesday. That tally does not include the 750,000 or so people who were determined eligible in Medicaid through the federally-run Obamacare exchange HealthCare.gov. Adding the two enrollment numbers together equals more than 7 million Medicaid-eligible determinations. But some of the determinations made by HealthCare.gov may be duplicative of state-based decisions. Such is the state of "success" for the PPACA thus far. Reuters suggests that some of the Medicaid numbers probably include people who happened to find out they qualified even before the law expanded eligibility. An expansion of Medicaid didn't require a complete overhaul of an industry however. We were told that was necessary to get the in-between people insured. This was what the public demanded, according to Obamacare apologists/champions. Certainly there would be a rush by these people to enroll once the tech glitches were partially resolved, right? Not so much. So...what if they gave an industry a crippling makeover and nobody came? Meanwhile, the hits just keep coming one after another.
“If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them,” suggested Sun Tzu in the Art of War. Speaker John Boehner gets half of that concept right. He excels at creating division on his own side. He just has a hard time when it comes to dividing the other side. Polling data released by FreedomWorks on Wednesday offers some guidance as to how Republicans ought to govern if they want to be on voters’ side before the next election. According to the numbers, 58 percent of voters believe jobs and the economy should be the number one priority in Congress this year, followed by 46 percent who believe it should be healthcare. Delving deeper into the healthcare issue, voters said a “start over and reform health care” message made them 34 percent more likely to vote for a hypothetical candidate, while a “give it a chance to work” message made them 16 percent less likely to do so. That’s great news for candidates willing to reform Obamacare. There are an ample number of reforms that Republicans could pick to pursue that include delay of the individual mandate; the creation of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that allow consumers to put their money into a tax free account to cover healthcare costs; and eliminating Obamacare subsidies for members of Congress and their staff. These proposals would unify Republicans and voters at large who want a healthcare system that works. They would create division between Democrats who want a more expansive role for government in healthcare – regardless of the consequences – and those who just want to win re-election. The data further shows that voters did not even mind the October shutdown over ObamaCare. Only 7 percent of voters weighed it as one of their top two issues. When Sen. Ted Cruz led the shutdown fight, various Republicans on Boehner’s team attacked Cruz for it, saying the fight could never be won. It ended with Boehner and 86 House Republicans voting with 198 Democrats to support ObamaCare, against 144 Republicans who voted to stop Boehner and his (mostly Democratic) team. Granted, it seems unlikely that Boehner will take a cue from voters or the data. Who can forget last year, when secret e-mails from Boehner Chief of Staff Mike Sommers emerged that showed him begging Sen. Harry Reid’s office to help Republicans keep ObamaCare subsidies in place for congressional employees? When Boehner’s team is hell bent on keeping Obama’s policies in place, there's not much hope of pushing any sort of reform-oriented agenda. Instead of focusing on issues that voters prioritize, Boehner is trying to focus on an agenda that they are not as interested in and that will divide his party. For instance, the data found that only 8 percent of voters prioritized immigration as their number one issue at this time. That should be a helpful thing for Republicans as immigration is something that often divides the party’s voters. Unfortunately, Boehner does not look inclined to act on the data. Republicans have already begun moving five pieces of immigration legislation through the House, and Boehner is set to unveil what he believes the party’s “principles” on the issue should be by the end of the month. This comes in spite of the fact that up to 70 of the 233 Republicans in the House began leading a revolt against Boehner on the immigration issue just last summer. FreedomWorks’ polling suggests that voters want candidates to focus more on economic freedom and freedom in healthcare. Those are messages that will unite Republicans under a banner that is going to win elections. It’s unfortunate that House Republican leaders like Boehner are more focused on working with Democrats than on promoting freedom or winning elections, but it should turn out to be good news for the conservatives seeking to depose them this year.
Governor John Kasich was elected in 2010 as a small-government conservative, so in 2013 he came up with several false talking points to justify his fight for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Following are 10 instances when Gov. Kasich misled Ohioans to bolster support for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, a key piece of the unpopular 2010 health care law Kasich claims to oppose.[Expanding Medicaid] avoids leaving Ohioans’ federal tax dollars on the table and keeps the federal government from simply giving them away to other states. FY14-15 budget highlights, 02/04/2013 Obamacare includes the promise of Medicaid expansion funding for the states that accept the law's broad new eligibility limits, but this promise is entirely open-ended. There is no predetermined pot of Medicaid expansion money; every state complying with the Obamacare expansion increases the total amount of new federal spending. Ohio's rejection of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would not result in one more dollar going to any of the states choosing to expand Medicaid.[Rejecting Medicaid expansion] takes $13 billion of Ohioans’ federal tax dollars out of our state and gives it to other states, where it will go to work helping to rev up some other state’s economy instead of Ohio's. "Protecting the Ohio Model," RedState.com, 02/06/2013 If we don’t do what we should do on Medicaid, they’ll be spending it in California. [...] We have an unprecedented opportunity to bring $13 billion of Ohio’s tax dollars back to Ohio to solve our problem. State of the State address, 02/19/2013 In March, Media Trackers asked the Kasich Administration to provide evidence supporting the governor's repeated assertions that Obamacare would bring Ohio "$13 billion of Ohio's tax dollars" which would otherwise go to other states. The Kasich Administration never replied, but several pro-expansion groups conceded that Kasich's description of how Obamacare works was inaccurate.I don’t want our dollars to be spent somewhere else. Because, you know, I worked in Washington long enough to know they don’t ever save anything. And secondly, their inability, their inability to solve a problem that ultimately will be resolved in a responsible way should not prevent Ohio from reclaiming our dollars to deal with our problem. Statehouse Obamacare rally, 07/09/2013 This is not about Obamacare. [...] Medicaid expansion is no different than the current Medicaid program, and to try to tie Medicaid to Obamacare, I don’t see the connection. Q&A with Statehouse reporters, 07/09/2013 Medicaid expansion is different than Obamacare. [...] what we wanna do is to be able to bring back $14 billion of our money, Ohio taxpayer money, to distribute to people who treat folks who are addicted, the alcohol and drug community organizations. 610 WTVN interview, 08/26/2013 It’s our money! This is not, like, somebody else’s money. [...] Bringing our dollars back and helping these people to get their lives back is so right. Cleveland Clinic speech on Obamacare Medicaid expansion, 10/18/2013 Chief Justice Roberts gave every state an opportunity to try to get federal dollars to improve Medicaid. [...] We get $14 billion of Ohio money back to Ohio to deal with some of the most serious problems. Meet the Press appearance, 10/27/2013 But there’s a big distinction between Medicaid and our ability to bring our money back to fix our problems, as opposed to a government takeover of the health care system. [...] This is about our money. Washington doesn’t have any money — I want our money back. O'Reilly Factor appearance, 11/15/2013 So now we have a little bit of money left over, because we were able to do some things to bring our money back from Washington to treat the poor. Year-in-review speech to Ohio Chamber of Commerce, 12/18/2013 This story was originally published at Media Trackers.
As you may have heard, the IRS has proposed new rules that would severely restrict grassroots advocacy groups. Under current IRS rules, the purpose of tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations is educate the public and promote "social welfare" causes, and they can't work primarily as political campaign organizations. Many 501(c)(4) entities are small grassroots organizations ran by local activists that want to participate in the political process. The proposed rules would modify the definition of political activity for non-profit organizations. Under the proposed IRS rules, here are some things that would be considered political activity: • Nonpartisan candidate forums that take place 30 days before a primary • Nonpartisan candidate forums that take place 60 days before an election • Any communication mentioning a political candidate or political party within 60 days of an election • Nonpartisan civic engagement activities • Voter registration drives • Voter education and the preparation and distribution of voter guides mentioning candidates • Get out the vote efforts and distribution of certain materials promoting candidates • Calling for the election or defeat of a political candidate • Any expenditure that must be reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) • Grants and contributions made by the group to any political group that reports to the FEC • Grants and contributions made by the group to any 527 or tax exempt group that spends money on candidate-related political activity The proposed IRS rules are confusing and overly bureaucratic. Many non-profit organizers will have to hire lawyers in order to ensure that they are complying with the complicated rules. Some well-intended activists will undoubtedly break the unclear laws without even knowing it. FreedomWorks has been encouraging our members to submit comments to the IRS opposing these regulations that will further stifle free speech. Click here to submit your comment to the IRS. The IRS’s deadline for public responses is February 27, 2014. The IRS shouldn’t be discouraging citizens from participating in the political process and helping to inform voters about their choices. Let’s stop the IRS from infringing on our constitutional right to free speech.
There are but hours left in 2013, which a full two thirds of Americans described as the "worst year ever." Actually, I'm not sure of that exact number, but I was among the ones that did. Thanks, Obamacare! Anyway, lest you think you're leaving all of the bad stuff behind while you're celebrating the end of the year with stuffed lobster, champagne and terrible decisions, the government has already started in on making your life miserable in 2014. And ready or not, as of midnight, here it comes. 1. The Obamacare Insurance Tax Those free insurance policies that are now available to every American certainly don't come cheap. I'm not referring specifically to people who are now paying more for sub-par insurance coverage. I'm talking about the brand spanking new "Obamacare Insurance Tax" which is scheduled to hit small businesses at midnight. At $8 billion in 2014 and $101 billion over the next decade, the insurance tax is larger than ObamaCare's taxes on medical devices and prescription drugs combined. The Internal Revenue Service classifies the tax as a "fee" but it functions like an excise tax on premiums. The IRS collects an annual flat amount specified by the Affordable Care Act to be allocated among the insurers according to market share.” The CBO has already admitted that the "fee" will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket...just in time for the insured to enroll in Obamacare where they can get affordable, comprehensive coverage for a reasonable price. Oh, wait. 2. The EPA's 2014 Regulation-Palooza You can always count on the Environmental Protection Agency for a wallop in early January, as in each previous year, the EPA heaps greater and greater regulation on American industry in the name of "environmental responsibility." This year is no exception. Starting January 1st, the EPA will be cracking down on "existing coal plans" trying to get them in line with near-impossible EPA standards (they cracked down on new plants earlier this year, stalling production on new plants across the country), and inevitably raising the cost of electricity nationwide. They'll also be unleashing 133 other major and minor regulations, 76 of which relate to your air alone, and all of which will impact your life. The good news is, at least one regulation from last year will be rolled back. Since the EPA couldn't defeat the free market for fuel, Ethanol and biofuel's 2013 expectations have been rolled back. 3. Higher Food Prices Speaking of the Administration's renewable fuel standards, it's possible the cost of your Superbowl chicken wings will be taking a spike as a result of the very standards the Administration is rolling back. Before realizing that mandating higher Ethanol content was a mistake, the EPA drove the price of corn sky high, and it's about to hit you in the pocketbook. Katie Campbell, a senior policy analyst at ActionAid, said the share of corn diverted from food to fuel has gone from 5 percent to 40 percent since 2000, which has created food price volatility... Those higher food costs hurt food producers in the way of livestock feed, and also hurt consumers. “As corn comprises nearly 70 percent of the feed given to chickens, our single largest input cost, rising prices directly affect farmers' bottom lines,” Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, said. “Since the RFS was aggressively escalated in 2007, average annual feed costs have skyrocketed by $8.8 billion annually for poultry producers. It's interesting to note that a Clean Air Task Force paper from April of 2013 says greenhouse gas emissions from corn Ethanol over 30 years will be approximately 28 percent higher than from gasoline. 4. Limiting Your Options in Higher Education Barack Obama ran on a platform that encompassed higher education reform, so that he could easily win the youth vote and avoid having to talk to people who would require convincing when confronted with the possibility of a larger and more bloated
While tonight is New Year’s Eve for the rest of the country, inside the Beltway over the last few years December 31st has been akin to the Night of the Living Dead. Not because worn out Capitol Hill staff and interns wander the streets in a drunken stupor (though this is an accurate assessment), but because dozens of tax extenders set to expire at year’s end are usually reauthorized in bulk by Congress. These dying subsidies and loopholes in the tax code, used by Congress to micromanage the economy through perverse incentives, are all too often brought back like Frankenstein’s monster in some last-minute deal hailed as bipartisan compromise (See: American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012). While most of the 46 some-odd provisions that are set to expire tonight as the ball drops in Times Square are written to serve some inarguable and noble purpose, in the long-run these added complexities are bad for the economy. The Taxpayer Advocate Service, the office within the IRS which has the sole purpose of highlighting and combatting the most pressing issues of the tax process, lists tax code complexity as the number one issue facing taxpayers. Any step to chip away at the 4 million-word-long tax code is thus a welcome one. Further, many of these provisions incentivize inefficient investments which have potentially serious economic consequences. This is Congress picking winners and losers before the market has a say, and when that happens we all lose. One such expiring provision is the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC, which subsidizes the production of electricity from renewable energy sources like wind, biomass, and geothermal has the effect of incentivizing the introduction of inefficient, unreliable, and largely experimental energy technologies onto the nation’s power grid. Wind power is particularly egregious, as peak wind energy production is inversely correlated to electricity demand, meaning that taxpayers are subsidizing wind companies to produce electricity when they need it the least. This has massively distortional effects on the electricity grid the nation can ill-afford during this tepid recovery. This is all on top of the fact that the environmental “benefits” of “green” energy like wind are marginal if not entirely imaginary. The PTC was set expire at the end of 2012, but was revived and expanded by Congress for at least the third time since its original expiration date in 1999. The cost? $12.2 billion. All told, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that eliminating the PTC and the other 45 provisions set to expire tonight will save the federal government and taxpayers nearly $1 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. ($938.3 billion) That being said, while many of the credits, subsidies, and loopholes that are lapsing are, in large part, either economically detrimental like the PTC, or just plain silly like “Three-Year Depreciation for Race Horses Two Years or Younger” or the “7-Year Recovery for Motorsport Racing Facilities”, some are certainly worth taking another look at. It’s hard to argue against the tax deduction for teachers’ out-of-pocket classroom expenses or the “Employer Wage Credit for Activated Military Reservists”. Without doubt, upon their return from the holiday, Congress will seek to reauthorize the bulk of these 46 programs while only touting no-brainer provisions like the preceding two. Yet it is critical to remember two things: Reauthorizing tax credits and subsidies for the neediest and noblest members of society does not justify extending corporate welfare through programs like the PTC. Many of the problems that these special loopholes seek to alleviate can be solved by comprehensive tax reform that simplifies and lowers the tax burden across the board, from teachers to tycoons. Expiration dates are written into tax credits and subsidies for a reason. Instead of reneging on the rules that it has set for itself by taking the easy way out and granting a broad re-authorizatio
This week, the GOP Executive Committee in South Carolina unanimously voted to reject Common Core standards. The resolution, which can be viewed here, is a huge step forward in the fight against Common Core. Contention between Common Core advocates and anti-Common Core activists has reached a boiling point in recent months as several states have considered pausing on the implementation of the standards. Kentucky and New York both saw a significant drop in test scores since the standards were brought into the classroom. Such poor performance has led many states to reconsider the standards and the tests that accompany Common Core. Proponents of Common Core would have the public believe that dissenters are limited to a few angry, “white suburban mothers”, a claim that will be harder to make as opposition to the standards grow. Resolutions, like the one in South Carolina, are proof that anti-Common Core sentiment is not going anywhere. As grassroots efforts grow, we are also seeing local governments have no choice but to take a closer look at the standards and what they are seeing is not instilling a great deal of confidence. It is precisely because of grassroots activism that we are seeing local governments take a stand against the Common Core standards. It is easy to dismiss a few angry parents as being on the “fringe” of an issue, but as we are rapidly multiplying our numbers, we have become impossible to ignore. The actions of the GOP in South Carolina are proof that we are beginning to change the hearts and minds across the country, community by community. Isn’t that what all of us are fighting for to begin with? Education decision should be made on the local level and not by special interests groups and federal bureaucrats. In addition to the South Carolina GOP, Louisiana has also decided to delay the implementation of the standards for two years because of the dedication and perseverance of local parents and activist on the ground. As we continue our fight against Common Core in the New Year, let us look back on our 2013 efforts as a success. Our base has grown drastically and we are finally able to work with local legislatures to stop Common Core to help return to an education system that is dictated by local control and parental choice.
In 2008 and 2012, Senator and President Obama was the solution for Democrat victories across the country. Minorities stood by his side, the youth stood by his side and most importantly, moderates were sticking by his side. Just one year later, things could not be more different. Obama’s lies and excuses have finally caught up with the majority of Americans. As a result, it is significantly hurting the Democratic Party . As you most likely know, President Obama has hit a new low with his approval rating at only 38 percent. This isn’t surprising news, however. Quinnipiac, The Economist and Reuters have released polls in the last two weeks with Obama’s approval rating under 40%. In addition, RealClear Politics has Obama’s average approval rating at a dismal 41% while also showing only 26% believe our country is headed in the right direction. If this hasn’t sent the Democratic Party into panic mode, I don’t know what will. Unfortunately for President Obama and the Democrats, it doesn’t stop there. Minorities and the youth are starting to wake up to Obama’s failures as well. According to a Gallup poll released last week, Obama’s support from minorities is waning fast. In just under a year, Obama’s support from Blacks has dropped 9% while his support from non-whites has dropped 17%. The most surprising statistic in this poll was the number of Hispanics who now disapprove of Obama. In December of 2012, 75% of Hispanics approved of Obama. As of last month, only 52% approved. This poll also shows a sharp drop in support from low-income families, women, moderates, independents and even liberals. As for the youth, they too are giving up on Obama and his policies. A poll released last week by Harvard University showed only 41% of 18-29 year olds approving of President Obama while 52% would throw him out of office, given the chance. Not only in my school, but across the country, students are finally realizing that the growing national/student loan debt, Obamacare and high unemployment will hurt them the most. The youth were a key in Obama’s 2012 victory, but even they are jumping ship. The American public has woken up in the nick of time, meaning trouble for Democrats in 2014, but we can’t slack off. We need even more conservatives across the country donating their time and money to conservative causes and candidates. The 2014 Mid-term Election is the last chance this country has to send a strong message to the Obama administration. America has at last woken up, giving conservatives the opportunity to win the Senate and hold the House in 2014. Instead of infighting or attempting the task of “Impeaching Obama”, we need to focus at the task at hand. President Obama’s actions have opened up a door of opportunity, and we cannot squander it.
Capitol Hill Update, 9 December, 2013 House & Senate/Schedule: The House is in session this week, and still plans to adjourn for the year by this Friday afternoon. The Senate is also in sessions, and will remain in town at least through next week. Legislative Highlight of the Week: The House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs, Rep. Paul Ryan, and Senator Patty Murray, are supposedly close to reaching a deal on a budget for the federal government. The problem is, their likely deal as reported in the media is basically a waste of time, at best. Most of the proposals that have been publicly leaked involve reducing the amounts cut by "sequestration" in exchange for some token cuts elsewhere and some increases in "fees". These fee hikes essentially equal tax hikes, and in any case the sequester cuts should not be traded for anything less than some level of stuctural entitlement or discretionary spending reform. House & Senate/Farm Bill: After several months of negotiating the "Farm Bill", it is reported that a compromise could be reached shortly, but may equally be punted until next Congress. Given how antiproductive this year's agricultural policy reform has been, it may be better if Congress is forced to pass a temporary extension of current law rather than enacting the new entitlements of this year's Farm Bill. House/Health Care: The House is also expected to vote at some point on a bill to fix the “Sustainable Growth Rate” (SGR), an annual affair that is better known inside the beltway as the “doc fix”. The SGR is a part of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, put in place to keep the cost of doctor reimbursements under Medicare from spiraling out of control. By the early 2000s, however, it became apparent that the result of this formula would result in an annual cut to what doctors get paid for serving Medicare patients. In order to prevent doctors from abandoning Medicare en masse, Congress has passed a “doc fix” every year since 2003. The SGR fix is generally considered a “must-pass” bill – the one issue being that it costs more and more each year. FreedomWorks hopes that Congress will offset the increased cost of the doc fix with spending cuts from elsewhere in the budget. House/ObamaCare: This Wednesday, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce will have another hearing on what officials at the Department of Health & Human Services in advance of the disastrous launch of ObamaCare’s exchanges this October. New emails show that HHS officials knew well in advance that the website was not going to work as scheduled, and yet they kept asserting publicly that everything was on track. Senate/Nominations: Now that Harry Reid has used the “nuclear option” allow a simple majority to pass executive nominations in the Senate, he is going to try to jam through as many controversial nominations as possible before the end of the year. The most troublesome of the nominations likely to be processed either this week or the next are Mel Watt for the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve. Senate/Defense: The Senate is also expected to bring up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) again, S. 1197. The bill was defeated by enraged Republicans after they were denied an open amendment process, as has been allowed on this bill in past years. For more on the several objections that FreedomWorks has to this bill, read my article HERE.
Earlier this year, a ballot initiative was filed in Oregon to place a measure on the 2014 ballot to allow public sector union members to opt out of mandatory deduction of dues from their paychecks. After months of legal wrangling, this week the Oregon Supreme Court - every member of which has been appointed by a Democrat Governor - affirmed SEIU's stance and changed the ballot title to their liking. Despite the initial approval of the office of the very liberal Attorney General, the unions immediately filed suit to have the ballot title changed. Recognizing what a threat to their revenue this would be - even though it's not even a full right to work measure - the unions fought tooth and nail to get a title that would twist the measure's meaning. In Oregon, the title of the ballot measure is vital to its success. As a vote by mail only state, most voting decisions are based on information included in the statements in the voter's pamphlet that accompanies a ballot. When the measure was first filed, the draft title read, "Prohibits requiring union membership as condition of public employment; prohibits requiring 'fair share' fee payments". The ballot title that was certified by the Attorney General read, "Prohibits compulsory payment of union representation costs by public employees choosing not to join union". But SEIU and other public sector unions filed suit to change this language, and the Oregon Supreme Court has sided with them. The official ballot title will now read, "Allows non-union member public employees receiving required union representation to refuse to share representation costs." Just a tad different. Talk about spin. According to the no-longer-daily Oregonian newspaper, [Ballot author] Odell said the ballot title – which is often the main thing that voters key on when they are studying a ballot measure – will "require a lot more work on my part to educate voters on what the measure does." Odell had argued that the ballot title should instead have stressed that workers would no longer have to make compulsory payments to unions, something she said is a basic matter of fairness. The unions and their allies saw it differently. This ballot measure "will help voters understand the basic unfairness of the measure," said Scott Moore, spokesman for Keep Oregon Working, a new group formed by unions and other groups to oppose the initiative. Under the measure, Moore argued, "unions would have to pay the representation costs of people choosing not to join a union." As we've seen in other states, the public sector unions know that the voters think they have too much power. Luckily for them, Oregon is so SEIU friendly that they have little to fear from a judiciary that has been exclusively appointed by the unions' political protectors. We'll see in 2014 if the voters recognize the inherent conflict of interest represented by public sector unions. As of right now, it just became a lot more difficult to educate the voters in the Beaver State.
Briefs supporting Governor John Kasich’s enactment of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion from 21 parties including AARP, the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA), and several chambers of commerce were submitted to the Ohio Supreme Court on November 25. Reviewing the court filings, what’s most striking is that the same organizations who urged the Ohio General Assembly to expand Medicaid are now formally arguing that the General Assembly’s refusal to do so means nothing in the wake of Gov. Kasich’s unilateral action. The documents included more relevant arguments for the governor’s end-run around the legislature than did the November 22 amici curiae brief submitted by 27 entitlement lobbying groups, but still defended the Kasich Administration in terms of the Obamacare expansion’s promised benefits. Accompanying their insistence that legislative intent was reflected in the executive veto which Kasich claims allowed him to implement the Obamacare expansion, the various groups submitted to the judiciary the same talking points they used in their failed months-long push to shame the legislature into adopting the policy. Represented by The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, 6 Republican members of the Ohio House and 2 Right to Life groups have requested the court block the Ohio Controlling Board’s October 21 decision to appropriate more than $2.5 billion in Obamacare funding at the request of the Ohio Department of Medicaid. 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson has made a strong case against letting the pseudo-legislative board appropriate billions in new federal funds which will be used to completely redefine the entitlement program, but those looking to dig deeper into taxpayers’ pockets seem happy to defend any means as justified by their avowedly selfless ends. An entire section of the OHA brief warned that without the expansion, “the Economic Impact of $15.4 Billion in Lost Federal Funds on Ohio Hospitals Will Be Devastating.” “Without Medicaid Expansion, Ohio’s Economy Will Suffer,” another section of OHA’s brief asserted. Joined by 7 other parties, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Dayton Chamber of Commerce, and Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce repeated lies about Obamacare funding that Gov. Kasich has told all year. According to their brief, “Medicaid expansion is about bringing Ohio money home to Ohio and back from Washington D.C. Medicaid expansion will return nearly $14 billion in Ohio taxpayer money to the Buckeye state; $14 billion that will otherwise be sent to fund Medicaid expansion in other states, leaving Ohioans with nothing in return for their hard-earned tax dollars.” As Media Trackers first explained in February, this is patently false. The Obamacare Medicaid expansion is backed by an open-ended promise of new federal spending; it will not be paid for with “nearly $14 billion in Ohio taxpayer money,” and not one penny extra would be sent to other states as a result of Ohio rejecting the Obamacare expansion. “The requested relief [blocking the Obamacare appropriation] will harm low-income Ohioans and will have a deleterious effect on representative state government,” AARP wrote. “In addition to providing life-saving health insurance for low-income pre-Medicare adults, Medicaid expansion will help reduce existing racial and ethnic disparities in insurance coverage,” AARP asserted elsewhere in its brief. “The full support and funding of Medicaid expansion in Ohio is of great interest to all citizens within the state,” the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus wrote, adding, “Not only will hundreds of thousands gain access to health care, but health care providers, state and local government, and related businesses will see financial benefit from expansion.” Another brief was submitted by 6 organizations including National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Ohio and Advocates for Ohio’s Future (AOF). AO
Social media is a powerful tool in the hands of grassroots activists. It is astounding that our voices can be heard around the globe without ever leaving the comfort of our own home. The rise of social media has presented a new platform for expressing our ideas and influencing others. Over the past few years we have seen online protests create tangible change all around us. One dedicated mother has decided to utilize social media to educate the online world about Common Core. Leslie Beck has some serious concerns about the new national education standards being implemented in public schools around the country. Many parents are worried that the Common Core standards will undermine local control of schools, jeopardize the privacy of students and neglect to prepare students to pursue their unique and individual destinies. Leslie decided to take action and use Facebook to promote public awareness of Common Core. She and other school choice activists have decided to change their Facebook profile pictures to a red and white graphic that reads, “Stop Common Core.” In a blog post from yesterday, Leslie urged others to do the same, “Use the same red and white picture as everyone else who does this. Do not show your creativity. Do not show your unique style. Show the world what it would be like if we were all the same, even if it is just in this one way. That is Common Core. That is what we are doing to our children if we adopt Common Core…” This kind of authentic grassroots activism is exactly what we need to help encourage others to educate themselves on the dangers of Common Core. If you would like to join Leslie and others, change your profile picture from November 12th to November 15th. Remember that education is one of the most important things we can do to raise awareness of Common Core. Please encourage others to change their profile pictures and please share all links and resources we have provided in this post with friends and family. A Republic of Republics
Main Street Advocacy, an organization created expressly to fight limited-government groups who challenge Republican Party officials, launched its first advertisement on November 6. “The reason that Harry Reid and the Democrats control the U.S. Senate is thanks to the efforts of the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party,” Main Street Advocacy President Steve LaTourette said in the release for a video containing brief clips from Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, and Christine O’Donnell. Focusing on a few embarrassing losses while ignoring the success of Sen. Ted Cruz and many others, Main Street Advocacy’s message is clear: only Republican leadership should have the power to choose who runs for national office as a Republican. LaTourette – a DC lobbyist and former congressman from northeastern Ohio – is also the current president of Republican Main Street Partnership and heads Defending Main Street, Main Street Advocacy’s sister political action committee. When candidates backed by the Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), or National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) lose, allies like LaTourette offer explanations ranging from funding, to messaging, to technology problems, to the overall political climate. When a more conservative candidate loses after being backed by independent right-of-center groups, however, RNC, NRSC, and NRCC eagerly blame the organizations who supported him or her. Although the reverse is certainly true in terms of fingers pointed at the Republican establishment when its chosen candidates lose, the sense of victimhood expressed by LaTourette is bizarre. According to LaTourette, Main Street Advocacy and Defending Main Street exist because the mammoth RNC, NRSC, and NRCC need help blocking threats against their power. Defending Main Street’s plan to spend $8 million in 2014 primary races is “a baby step that we’re beginning with to try to level the playing field,” the former 18-year congressman told The Washington Post in July. In a September 20 Washington Post op-ed, LaTourette slammed FreedomWorks and Club for Growth as “organizations that have made a lucrative business out of Washington’s dysfunction.” “No amount of polling will convince those who are content with pandering to the base that what they are doing is damaging the party,” LaTourette sneered in an October 15 Newsweek column on the partial shutdown of the federal government. “For the first time, there will be a group representing the governing wing of the Republican Party that will not only defend itself, but also push back,” LaTourette said in Main Street Advocacy’s November 6 release. In the July 31, 2012 speech on the House floor where he announced his resignation from Congress, LaTourette decried the refusal of conservatives to support bloated farm and highway spending bills. “We’re talking about building roads and bridges for Christ’s sake. We’re not talking about big Democratic and Republican initiatives,” LaTourette said. Since leaving Congress and becoming a lobbyist, LaTourette has been on the front lines attacking conservatives who reject the Republican Party’s standard go-along-to-get-along approach. “We want our party back,” LaTourette said last week at a New York City fundraiser covered by The New York Times. Shortly before announcing his resignation last year, LaTourette cosponsored a “compromise” budget that would have increased taxes. The congressman did not take kindly to conservative opposition to his proposal. “We’re asking that members tonight stand up, that they stand up to the bloodsuckers in this town who take 5, 10, 15, 25 dollars from our constituents to pretend to defend causes on their behalf,”LaTourette said in a speech on the House floor. LaTourette claims to speak for the “centrist” or “moderate” wing of the Republican Party, but his voting record pegs him amo