The Obama administration got a rare piece of good news today when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding part of ObamaCare.
The case, Coons v. Lew, is an Arizona-based challenge to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the 15-member group of experts empowered to reduce Medicare spending below a certain threshold.
In declining the plaintiffs’ appeal, the Supremes did not in any way indicate that this case is without merit. Rather, it may have been filed too early. Courts are typically loathe to strike down parts of laws that have yet to go into effect. IPAB won’t be making any decisions until 2019 at the earliest.
As usual, the issue is whether IPAB is constitutional. “Its decisions cannot be overridden by Congress without a super-majority and cannot be challenged in court,” explains a report in Politico. If that sounds like near monarchial power for an unelected bunch of experts, well, this is the Obama administration after all.
For now, IPAB is a dormant legal issue. Time will tell if it becomes a political rallying cry in next year’s presidential election.
In an interview with CFIF, Professor John Eastman, the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service at Chapman University and Founding Director of the Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic, discusses whether Ted Cruz can serve as president if he was born in Canada and the Texas immigration case challenging President Obama’s Executive Fiat.
Mark your calendars because today the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Obama administration’s plea to grant a fast-track appeal of a lower court decision blocking a controversial amnesty program for illegal immigrants.
The next stop on the constitutional carousel occurs April 17, when lawyers from the Texas Attorney General’s office representing 26 states square off against counterparts from the federal government. At issue will be whether to overturn a district court order halting implementation of an executive action granting work permits and deportation waivers to an estimated five million people in the United States without authorization.
Granting the fast-track petition doesn’t necessarily mean that the Fifth Circuit – widely considered the most conservative jurisdiction of the federal judiciary – will side with the Obama administration. More likely, it’s a courtesy gesture to the executive branch acknowledging that a resolution to this dispute is needed sooner rather than later. Even still, a final decision could take months to appear and both sides have indicated they will litigate all the way to the Supreme Court to vindicate their position.
In the end, what today’s announcement probably means is that the Supreme Court will hear an appeal next fall instead of the following spring. Just in time for presidential primary season.
Gaming is an issue traditionally governed at the state level, and rightfully so. Under our federalist system, such questions are best resolved according to what the citizens of individual states – our “laboratories of democracy” – prefer. What fits the citizens of Nevada may differ from what fits the citizens of New Hampshire, and vice-versa.
Unfortunately, some in Congress who typically demonstrate better political and policy judgment hope to impose a blanket, nationwide, one-size-fits-all prohibition of online gaming upon all 50 states. The proposed bill failed in the last Congress, but this week on Capitol Hill its ill-advised reincarnation will be the focus of a Congressional hearing. Nothing has changed over the past year to suddenly justify a bill that we opposed in its first iteration:
The so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301 in the House and S. 2159 in the Senate), which wouldn’t ‘restore’ the Wire Act to its original meaning but rather significantly expand its reach contrary to the Fifth Circuit and Justice Department rulings, aims to impose a de facto prohibition on online gaming in all 50 states and thereby increase federal regulatory power. Proponents claim that the new bill would protect children and problem gamers, but the more realistic consequence would be shutting down existing law-abiding companies and driving commerce toward criminal sites and unaccountable overseas entities less interested in restricting minors or problem gamers.
The better option is to maintain existing law, which rewards law-abiding domestic companies and ensures greater safety and security. And as noted above, the proposed legislation would grossly violate the concepts of state sovereignty, free-market principles and individual consumer freedom. The last thing we need right now is even more federal regulation of states and legal commerce, particularly within the flourishing Internet sector.”
Proponents have even attempted to rig the hearing to exclude opposition voices. But regardless of parliamentary shenanigans, the bottom line is that this is an ill-advised bill. Conservatives and libertarians should strongly oppose this intrusion into individual states’ rights and consumer freedom, and contact their elected representatives to make their preference clear.
Not one to wait his turn, today U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) became the first person to announce he is running for the presidency.
The first-term senator declared his ambition during a speech at Liberty University, the world’s largest Christian university and the symbolic epicenter for the conservative grassroots Cruz is trying to represent.
In the Age of Obama, Cruz’s red meat speech seems almost like a throwback to the days when conservatives were unabashed in their support for the three-legged stool of the movement’s issues: social, economic, and national security.
If you’re looking for a candidate to double-down on first principles, Cruz might be the one.
Though his pre-announcement polling numbers haven’t been stellar, Cruz will be working hard to move the needle higher now that he is officially in the race to replace Barack Obama.
Welcome to the job interview, Senator. We look forward to hearing more from you.
Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:
4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT: Patrick Hedger, Policy Director of American Encore – Preserving the Work Requirement for Welfare Act and Proposed IRS Rules to Police Nonprofits;
4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Michael Brickman, National Policy Director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute – “Free Community College”;
5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT: Jason Kimbrell, Leslie Coleman and Leah Taylor, Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce – Excellence in Business and Leadership Conference; and
5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT: Professor John Eastman, Director, Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law and Community Service, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law – Texas Immigration Case.
Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.
James Pethokoukis of AEI argues that the new House GOP budget puts too much emphasis on cutting the deficit and not enough on increasing economic growth.
“Indeed, the entire thrust of the budget seems to be that the federal debt is America’s biggest problem,” he writes. “But where’s the evidence? Low interest rates are hardly signaling investor alarm. And not only is the federal debt issued in U.S. dollars, our currency is the world’s reserve. The U.S. is not Greece. The big economic danger here isn’t a debt-driven financial crisis. It’s chronic slow growth from having to sharply raise taxes if we don’t restructure entitlements in a way that promotes saving and work.”
Of course, House budget writers do intend to reform entitlement spending drivers like Medicare and Medicaid – and eventually, one hopes, Social Security. So from at least this standpoint Pethokoukis and the House Budget Committee seem to be in agreement that structural fixes are needed to get entitlement spending on a sustainable trajectory.
What seems to divide them, however, is the motivation for doing so. For the budget drafters it may be containing and reducing an exploding deficit. For Pethokoukis and others, it’s kick-starting the economy to generate more wealth up-and-down the income ladder.
One of these two motivations will ultimately decide what conservative entitlement reform looks like. It will be interesting to see which prevails in the run-up to 2016.
If you didn’t have health insurance last year, could afford it (according to ObamaCare), and don’t have a waiver from the individual or employer mandate, you will be getting a notice from the IRS this year that you owe Uncle Sam some money.
Apparently, this will be a surprise to a lot of people.
“A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday found that while slightly more than half of respondents were aware the penalty kicks in this year, one in five think it goes into effect next year, roughly one in six say they don’t know when it goes into effect, and one in 10 believe it was rolled out last year,” reports the Washington Examiner.
Look for ObamaCare’s unpopularity to increase even more after Tax Day.
In an interview with CFIF, Ryan Wiggins, Owner and Chief Strategist for Full Contact Strategies, LLC, discusses the role of a political media consultant in the legislative process and the big issues facing Florida and other state legislatures, including Medicaid expansion, mental health, prison reform and medical marijuana.
President Barack Obama has rooted most of his amnesty program on the idea that he and his bureaucrats can exercise immense amounts of prosecutorial discretion in refusing to deport millions of illegal immigrants. While this iteration of prosecutorial discretion is absurd, a more conventional application is badly needed at the Interior Department.
Recently, Interior lost a high-profile legal battle over whether a Native American pastor in Texas could legally possess eagle feathers. The feathers were given to Pastor Robert Soto as a gift for giving spiritual counsel to a dying woman in his tribe. They were confiscated in the middle of a subsequent religious ceremony by undercover federal agents in a sting operation called “Operation Powwow.”
You read that right.
At issue is a federal law that prohibits the possession of feathers from more than 800 different kinds of birds, including eagles. It doesn’t matter how the feathers are obtained. In Soto’s case, the feathers were picked up off the ground after the eagle molted. If the law were to be applied in every case like it was in Soto’s the results would be laughable.
“…any child who goes to a park and picks up a feather is in violation of federal law if he picks up a common goose or a duck feather and takes it home,” writes Kristina Arriaga of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “However, one does not see covert agents sneaking around neighborhoods in an “Operation Park Patrol” to investigate children collecting feathers, playing with them, or using them in school projects.”
At least not yet.
Memo to the federal bureaucracy: This is an example of the need for prosecutorial discretion. Refusing to police the border or take action against those who cross it illegally is not.
New House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) is picking up right where his predecessor Paul Ryan (R-WI) left off.
Today, Price introduced his first federal budget proposal which borrows heavily from Ryan’s plans, “including a plan that would transform Medicare into a voucher-like ‘premium support’ program for seniors joining Medicare in 2024 or later,” reports Fox News. “They would receive a subsidy to purchase health insurance on the private market.”
Price would also keep Ryan’s idea to convert Medicaid and food stamps into federal block grants that states can spend with more freedom than they do now.
Though this budget stands little chance of passing because Republicans in Congress don’t have the votes to overcome a certain veto by President Barack Obama, retaining the core of Ryan’s reform package sends an important signal that these budget proposals are now the fundamental elements of any conservative spending reduction agenda. Every GOP presidential aspirant will have to weigh in on whether they support this approach and what, if any, changes they would make.
It’s gotten so bad in Iraq that Iranian-backed militias are fighting ISIS soldiers for control of large swaths of territory. And while these two factions redraw the map of the Middle East, American military advisors and the Iraqi army have been rendered largely irrelevant.
That prompted Richard Haas, president of the Council of Foreign Relations, to give this grim analysis: “I think [Iran] will win this battle, but… I think we have to understand, Baghdad and the south are now part of Greater Iran. This is what it is… ‘Iraq’ is over. Rest in peace. The era where you had an intact Iraq and an intact Syria is over. So what you’re looking at is an Iraq where part of it is an extension of Iran…”
Maybe this is why President Barack Obama is so repulsed by Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran: It threatens our dependence on a known sponsor of terror.
“The Democrats and Hillary Clinton have made gender an issue with their ridiculous ‘war on women,’” the New York Times quotes Fiorina as saying. “I think if Hillary Clinton faces a woman opponent, she will get a hitch in her swing.”
What better way to deflate the liberal meme that Republicans hate women than by nominating a conservative female to the party’s standard bearer? Fiorina is proudly pro-free market and pro-life, making her someone to watch as the GOP field takes shape.
By establishing her abilities as an able Clinton critic, Fiorina may be positioning herself to show the eventual nominee that she can go toe-to-toe with Hillary and effectively neutralize any war-on-women attacks.
Keep an eye on Fiorina. If Hillary is the Democrats’ nominee, we may see a lot more of Carly.
In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President, CEO and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, discusses oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the King v. Burwell case, the damaging effects of ObamaCare, and what state lawmakers and members of Congress should be doing now to prepare for a potential ruling that derails the Affordable Care Act.
After announcing plans to confiscate certain kinds of ammunition through a new and textually dubious regulation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is reconsidering. Indefinitely.
“Thank you for your interest in ATF’s proposed framework for determining whether certain projectiles are ‘primarily intended for sporting purposes’ within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(C). The informal comment period will close on Monday, March 15, 2015. ATF has already received more than 80,000 comments, which will be made publicly available as soon as possible,” reads a statement from the bureau’s website.
“Although ATF endeavored to create a proposal that reflected a good faith interpretation of the law and balanced the interests of law enforcement, industry, and sportsmen,” the statement continues, “the vast majority of the comments received to date are critical of the framework, and include issues that deserve further study. Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.”
Though I’m glad to see a federal agency rethinking a bad policy change for the stated reason that the “vast majority” of 80,000 comments oppose the move, I suspect the real reason for the sudden about-face is because ammunition confiscation through regulation is an issue that will make it virtually impossible for Democrats to get elected in swing districts.
Whatever the reason, it’s great to see some level of responsiveness from a federal bureaucracy that ostensibly exists to serve the public.
Helms (R-NC) was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the latter part of the Clinton presidency and made no bones about attempts to circumvent Congress so the White House could claim a big foreign policy headline.
In an op-ed published the day Clinton was to engage in talks with Vladimir Putin about reducing missile defense capabilities, Helms declared, “After dragging his feet on missile defense for nearly eight years, Mr. Clinton now fervently hopes that he will be permitted, in his final months in office, to tie the hands of the next President.”
Helms would have none of it. “Well I, for one, have a message for the President: Not on my watch. Let’s be clear, to avoid any misunderstandings: Any modified ABM treaty negotiated by this administration will be dead-on-arrival at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee… The Russian government should not be under any illusions whatsoever that any commitments made by this lame-duck Administration, will be binding on the next administration.”
And with that, the talks dissolved.
In this context, Cotton’s letter is tame by comparison. Which isn’t to say that it lacks verve and importance. Cotton and the forty-six other Senators who educated the Iranian leadership on the limitations of Obama’s go-it-alone strategy are guarding against the misimpression that Obama’s dealmaking lasts any longer than his hold on office.
What Helms and Cotton have in common is a clear-eyed view of constitutional procedure, and the difference it makes when shunted aside. If Obama wants a legacy pact with Iran, he can’t do it on the cheap. Congress – and specifically the Senate – needs to be consulted, the sooner the better.