The Senate Parliamentarian’s Advice is Non-Binding

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Issues, Obamacare

There’s a lot of noise from various GOP Senators regarding the power of the Senate Parliamentarian. Our friend and former co-worker, Daniel Horowitz, addressed that this morning. The Senate Parliamentarian is a staffer who advises Senators as best she can. Her advice is non-binding. So the next time a GOP Senator says, “We’re doing our best to see what we can get past the Senate Parliamentarian,” know that this is an excuse to do nothing.

To “get past” the Senate Parliamentarian, all that has to happen is the Majority Leader (McConnell) or Vice-President Mike Pence (the President of the Senate). As Senator Ted Cruz noted recently:

Cruz argues that Pence, as the person likely to preside over the chamber at the most important moments of the healthcare debate, can decide what is and what isn’t eligible for the so-called reconciliation process. He says the Senate parliamentarian’s role is to advise, not to rule.

“Under the Budget Act of 1974, which is what governs reconciliation, it is the presiding officer, the vice president of the United States, who rules on what’s permissible on reconciliation and what is not,” Cruz told reporters Thursday. “That’s a conversation I’ve been having with a number of my colleagues.”

Let’s check this off the list of excuses the GOP has used to not repeal Obamacare.

The first was, “We only hold the House!” That’s gone. Check.

The second was, “We only hold the House and the Senate!” That too is gone. Check.

The third was, “We really need the White House to get this done!” Gone. Check.

The fourth was, “The Senate Parliamentarian will decided what we can do!” That, as we now know, is gone as well. Check.

If the GOP, after three successive election cycles run on the promise to repeal Obamacare, does not take action, we can only draw one conclusion.

They were lying to their voters the entire time.

Ted Cruz Leads

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues, Obamacare

NPR reported yesterday that a “secret” working group of 13 United States Senators has been meeting to hammer out the next steps in repealing Obamacare.

What do we know at this point?

One, the Senate is NOT taking up the House bill, but will likely use the framework that it was created in (a budget bill) so the reconciliation process can be used. Why is this important? Because to pass a budget reconciliation bill you only need 51 votes and there are 52 GOP Senators.

Two, Senator Ted Cruz is helping lead this working group. This is important because of this: Ted Cruz Shops One and Done Bill.  HIs focus is on driving premiums down. That is a winning issue that crosses ideological lines.

Third, according to the NPR story:

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bill Cassidy, R-La., have introduced their own health care plan, and they have been prominent voices in the debate, but they were excluded from the health care working group.

If you recall, Bill Cassidy was floating his “Jimmy Kimmel Test” last week. He clearly has no intention of repealing Obamacare and its rising premiums. Susan Collins doesn’t either. The fact that neither are in the room bodes well for this process.

Four, Joe Manchin and other red state Democrats up in 2018 now face a tough decision: keep their Senate seats by voting with their constituents and driving premiums down or lose their seats by voting with the Washington, DC based leadership. They are literally between a rock and a hard place and our guess is 2-3 of them will buckle when the right bill is presented.

While a lot of other news has buried all this, keep an eye on Ted Cruz and this working group. We think something really good is going to come from it.

 

Ted Cruz is Right. Again.

Friday, May 12th, 2017 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues, Obamacare

As House healthcare bill heads to the United States Senate, there has been a lot of jostling as to the best path forward now that the House has punted on a full repeal of Obamacare and tossed it to the Senate.

As the stage is set, let’s make sure everyone understands what exactly the state of play is.

The initial bill, one that we dubbed “Ryancare,” was the creation of healthcare lobbyists and the Tuesday Group (House liberals masquerading as Republicans) with no input from the House Freedom Caucus or the conservative movement as a whole.

It met the fate that was preordained for it the moment the process began sans conservatives.

Upon its demise, President Trump said, “That’s it, we tried, we couldn’t get Obamacare repealed.”

The House Freedom Caucus, eager to help Trump fulfill one of this three major campaign promises (The Wall, Repeal, Tax Reform), said, “Not so fast!”

Patching together a stage coalition, Mark Meadows and the House Freedom Caucus sent (as they acknowledged) an imperfect but improved version of a healthcare bill to the Senate. It’s still not reform, but neither is it the Frankenstein Ryancare was. Lost on many was and is the fact that the House bill was drafted as a budget reconciliation bill. This is a important component on which the entire process hinges (for more on budget reconciliation, read this.).

Why?

Enter Ted Cruz. Love him, hate him, disbelieve him-it doesn’t matter. He has been consistent on a host of issues, the foremost of which is the total repeal of Obamacare. Now that the House bill is in the Senate hands, it is going to be disassembled and patched back together, likely returning to a version closer to Ryancare than anything else.

Unless Ted Cruz has his way. With three election cycles worth of campaign promises resting on the full repeal of Obamacare, Cruz . . .

. . . said he has been working for weeks with the now-thirteen member group of GOP senators on an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan that would eliminate the need for a second phase of legislation to replace failing healthcare law. Instead of a limited repeal and replace bill followed by another bill later, the GOP wish-list for replacing Obamacare would be packed into a single budget resolution to repeal Obamacare that could pass with only GOP support using a tool called reconciliation.

“I believe the only meaningful healthcare reform will be through reconciliation,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner in an interview.

He is right. Why? Because through the reconciliation process, it only takes 51 votes to repeal Obamacare, not 60. Mitch McConnell and Senate leadership have already proven with the Grouch nomination fight that a 51 vote versus 60 vote threshold is perfectly acceptable on controversial issues like judges.

The current number of GOP Senators? 52.

With the clock ticking and premiums rising sky high, now is the time to act on the full repeal of Obamacare.

 

 

Roberts Fundamentally Transforms SCOTUS Into Super Legislature

Thursday, June 25th, 2015 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

Cross posted from Conservative Review.

By: Daniel Horowitz | June 25th, 2015

With a Republican Party that fights just as hard for the liberal agenda as the Democrat Party, the remaining argument promoted in defense of voting for liberal Republicans is that they will appoint good judges to the Supreme Court. Today’s events should relegate that argument to the fate of the Confederate flag.

For the second time in two years, Chief Justice John Roberts redrafted Obamacare from the bench. We already know that Obama has supplanted the legislative powers of Congress; now Roberts is competing with him to consume the remaining vestiges of legislative power ceded by the people’s representatives.

In upholding the Obamacare subsidies in states with federal exchanges – in contravention to the plain text of the law – Roberts and the 5 other Justices have made it clear that political outcomes and ideology not only affect their constitutional jurisprudence but their obligation to read the plain meaning of congressional statutes.

After essentially conceding the argument that the plain language of the text only provides for subsidies for those states that set up state-based exchanges, Roberts wrote, “In this instance, the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.” Roberts concludes, “A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

Read More at Conservative Review

Deception, Lies & Really Bad News for Obamacare

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

Things continue to get worse for supporters of Obamacare. First, a key architect of the law revealed on camera how deceptive he and the Administration were in crafting the law so it would pass without transparency — “call it the stupidity of the American voter,” he said.

Now, another piece of the law is under continuing fire since the Supreme Court decided it would hear King v. Burwell after an appeal. This is just one of many issues with the law, which has, in fact, already been changed 42 times since it’s passage.

If a law has to be so completely hacked to death over such a short period of time, doesn’t that mean it wasn’t ready to go in the first place? That’s putting it nicely.

King v. Burwell regards whether or not the Obama Administration will provide tax credits to individuals who purchase insurances through the federal Obamacare exchanges – and not just to those using state-based exchanges.

The Supreme Court taking up the case alone makes the Administration look bad — but the confusing language inside the law only serves to confirm that deception via confusion was part of the plan all along.

The Obamacare architect in the video above said the law was “written in a tortured way” on purpose and that such tactics were “really critical in getting the thing to pass.”

Clearly, the tortured language has been torturing the American people since then, and that continues in this latest court case.

Part of getting people to buy into Obamacare was promising them their healthcare would be less expensive or that they’d receive tax breaks. If the Supreme Court now decides, via King v. Burwell, that individuals cannot receive subsidies through the federal exchange, then all the people in those states will be out of luck once again.

It will be yet another promise broken, another misleading part of a law that’s been everything but what many Americans though it would be.

When something is so bad it has to be written “in a tortured way” to deceive people — and revised 42 times in three years — it’s time to admit it shouldn’t have been passed in the first place.

Since Obamacare was passed, there have been plenty of conservative alternatives to consider but both Democrats and the media have ignored them. It’s time to put forward legislation that actually prioritizes Americans and puts the patient first.

The Obamacare Horror Show

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

What was on the forefront of every candidate’s mind this election season? Obamacare.

Democrats have tried desperately to get away from it and Republicans are doing all they can to remind voters how awful it is. That’s why the House GOP decided to attack Obamacare in their ads more than any other issue this year.

According to the Hill, 1/3 of 130 television ads from the GOP were focused on the controversial legislation.

Even some Democrats ran ads this year criticizing the law, though not going so far as to support repeal.

Many candidates are still campaigning on the notion of repealing and replacing Obamacare.  Polls show that up to 60% of voters still want Obamacare to be repealed and numbers began moving up increasingly this summer as Election Day neared.

As conservative grassroots candidates and voters remain committed to getting rid of the law, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is making some on the Right angry.

McConnell recently said of an Obamacare repeal, “No one thinks we’re going to get that,” proving he’s not nearly as committed to repealing the law as his passionate conservative counterparts.

Despite McConnell’s back tracking, Republicans remain confident that Obamacare criticism is an essential part of gaining voter support.  Veteran pollster Scott Rasmussen said in an interview this week that Obamacare is the “defining issue” of the 2014 elections.

With everything from website security issues to unaffordable healthcare plans and taxpayer coverage of abortion, there’s little for voters to find appealing about the law even at face value.

The GOP was wise to keep a strong focus on Obamacare, the legislation that had to be passed in the middle of the night against the will of the American people.

Today, the people speak.

Kill The Duck

Friday, October 31st, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Obamacare

There seems to be a general consensus that Republicans will retake the Senate in next Tuesday night’s election. If that is the case, they won’t retake the reins of power until early in January of 2015, giving the Senate Democrats one last gasp at legislating during the forthcoming lame duck session. There are a number of terrible ideas being floated for the lame duck, but the one I want to discuss today is the idea of “clearing the decks” so that Congress can start fresh in 2015.

Currently there is a continuing resolution in effect that funds the government until December 11th. There are rumblings that Congressional leadership, both Republicans and Democrats in both chambers, wants to pass a long term funding bill that funds the government through next fall. If next Tuesday night’s election results hand the Senate over to Republicans, conservatives need to resist this approach vigorously.

First, the obvious reason is that all manner of retired and defeated members will be voting on extremely important issues. Even the fine folks who wrote The West Wing understood how problematic this is.Lame duck Congressman and Senators could be voting on numerous nominees, internet taxation, funding for Obamacare and amnesty for illegal aliens and voting contrary to the people who just turned them out of office.

This brings me to my second and more important point. The funding bill.

Leadership wants to “clear the decks” (by that they mean pass all the major legislation and nominees sitting before Congress) so that they can start off the new Congress focusing on their priorities.  Their priorities are much more likely to reflect the priorities of Wall Street and K Street than Main Street.  The first thing they want to get out of the way is the controversy surrounding funding Obamacare and the President’s illegal amnesty. And by get out of the way I mean fund Obamacare and amnesty.

Congress – and the House of Representatives in particular – holds the purse strings, without which the President cannot implement his agenda. If Congress does not fund an activity, then the Executive Branch cannot implement it. Further if Congress affirmatively acts to restrict funding for an activity, the Administration’s hands are similarly tied. Congress knows exactly how to limit funding for Obamacare – they have done it in the past – and candidates are pledging to do it on the campaign trail at this moment.

At the same time, the American people want Congress to defund President Obama’s lawless amnesty program for illegal immigrant children – often known as DACA.   If media reports are correct, by the time the lame duck begins, President Obama will have issued an even broader amnesty for adult illegal aliens.   The only way to stop this will be to turn off the funding for the President’s amnesty.

But if the Congressional leadership “clears the decks” in November the opportunity to include riders to block amnesty and defund Obamacare evaporates until next fall.  By the time we get back to appropriations bills the amnesty program will be well underway and much harder to undo.

If candidates are serious about opposing Obamacare and Executive amnesty, they need to pass a very short-term Continuing Resolution in November that only funds the government until January, so that the Republican House and Senate can come back and include the important Obamacare and amnesty defunding provisions they promised the American people.

How Much Will Obamacare Cost You in the Next 10 Years?

Monday, October 27th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

$131 billion. These days numbers in the millions, billions and even trillions, have lost their shock value — but they shouldn’t. This is the amount of money the U.S. federal deficit will increase by over the next 10 years, thanks to Obamacare. A new report from the Republican Senate Budget Committee shows why things have gotten so bad.

A top Democrat aide called the report  “garbage,” but we know better. And it’s not just the money it will cost, it’s the jobs. CBO reports that 2.5 million full-time employees will be forced out of their jobs by 2024 because of the law. It’s a double whammy our country doesn’t deserve.

When Obamacare was first passed, CBO estimated it would actually reduce the deficit but things didn’t exactly go as planned. Even though the Obama Administration claimed the law would be funded by 18 new taxes, that’s not enough — never mind the fact that most people aren’t too keen on this new “revenue.”

The Senate report considers changes made to Obamacare since 2012 and how those unexpected events completely shift the fiscal outcome. For example, not as many people signed up for Obamacare as the Administration hoped. Additionally, millions of people have had the Obamacare mandate penalty waived for a variety of reasons. These things, among others, decrease the amount of money the Administration was counting on for funding.

Meanwhile, the President continues to stress that “this thing is working.” Unfortunately for him, it’s quite clear that the law hasn’t “worked” tangibly or technically from the start. In 2009, Obama promised he would not “sign [Obamacare] if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.”

The future is here, Mr. President, and you have more dimes than one to account for now.

Paying for Abortion Whether You Like It or Not

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

The claim seems to come and go, but this week, there is more hard evidence that Obamacare does indeed force individuals to fund subsidies for healthcare plans that cover abortion.

No, it’s not a lot of your personal money, but that’s not the point. Individuals who believe life begins at conception and oppose abortion should not be forced to fund it in any way whatsoever.

This is especially relevant since President Obama said on record, “under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion.”

Just because there isn’t a section marked “abortion” on our paychecks or healthcare plans doesn’t mean that’s not the case. The connection is rather clear in a newly released GAO report.

The report finds that abortion is not being itemized as a separate surcharge on most insurance plans. In fact, 1,036 plans do cover elective abortion and remain able to receive taxpayer subsidies — and it’s happening in all 50 states.

It wouldn’t be that hard for the Administration to ensure that abortion funding wasn’t included in plans for individuals that don’t want to pay for it – but it’s clearly not a priority. There is even a “No Taxpyaer Funding of Abortion Act” passed by the House earlier this year. But, I guess that’s being ignored.

There’s absolutely no reason not to have full transparentcy when it comes to abortion funiding in Obamacare – or any other government action. The fact that the Presdient lied to the American people and the Administration conitnues to keep up the ruse is unacceptable.

The K Street Revolving Door Continues Turning

Monday, May 12th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Obamacare

A few weeks ago, we noted that House GOP leadership has carefully picked which partial Obamacare bills come to the floor.  Notably, only those aspects of repeal that are fully supported by the health care lobbyists on K Street ever see the light of day for a floor vote.  The example from last month was a bailout of Cigna’s calamity with expatriate health insurance plans for American executives serving overseas.

The health care industry spent a lot of money campaigning for Obamacare, but now they don’t want to deal with the consequences of the law, at least not those aspects that affect their bottom line in the near-term.  It’s no surprise that Senator Marco Rubio’s “risk corridors” bill, which would eliminate the slush fund to bail out insurance companies from revenue losses due to the Obamacare mandates, never received a vote in the House.  It is vehemently opposed by the health industry lobbyists.

To illustrate just how strongly Republicans are controlled by K Street look no further than today’s news that Brendan Buck has accepted a position as the top spokesman for the health insurance industry.  Buck, a longtime spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, will become vice president of communications at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

As the Washington Post notes, AHIP is a supporter of Obamacare and a big force behind opposing the elimination of the “risk corridor” bailout.

Over the next few months, we will begin to see a number of stories about how repealing Obamacare is a thing of the past.  Just today, The Hill observes how “the GOP goes quiet on Obamacare,” as there is no more pending legislation going through committee or coming up for a floor vote.

Indeed it has become clear that the battle over defunding Obamacare last fall was not just a disagreement in strategy.  If we fail to get rid of leadership and elect more fresh conservative blood, passing amnesty will supplant repeal of Obamacare as the cause célèbre of the Republican Party.

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