A letter from House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) demands an explanation from the Treasury Department on why it allowed $3 billion in payments to ObamaCare insurance companies that Congress never approved.
In a well-documented piece, Philip Klein gives a disturbing summary of the Obama administration deliberately refusing to follow the law.
“At issue are payments to insurers known as cost-sharing subsidies,” writes Klein. “These payments come about because President Obama’s healthcare law forces insurers to limit out-of-pocket costs for certain low income individuals by capping consumer expenses, such as deductibles and co-payments, in insurance plans. In exchange for capping these charges, insurers are supposed to receive compensation.”
Here’s the rub.
“What’s tricky is that Congress never authorized any money to make such payments to insurers in its annual appropriations, but the Department of Health and Human Services, with the cooperation of the U.S. Treasury, made them anyway,” says Klein.
As proof, Klein cites a $4 billion funding request for the cost-sharing subsidies program in 2014 that was not fulfilled by Congress. It’s now 2015, the bills are coming due, and the Obama administration effectively said, “Never mind.”
Whether the domain is immigration or ObamaCare, the default setting for this administration seems to be that if it can’t get what it wants the legal way, it’s just as good to go around the law.
Kudos to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for declining the Senate GOP’s offer to cave to Democrats’ demand for a so-called “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
As I discuss in my column this week, some Senate Republican leaders are getting gun shy about following through with the party’s promise to condition funding for DHS on new legislative language that specifically prohibits immigration agencies from implementing President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty program. They warn that Republicans will be blamed for the shutdown that would start on Sunday when the DHS budget ends, if no new bill is passed. Better, they argue, to appropriate the money now and hope the federal judiciary holds Obama accountable in the future.
At a press conference today, Boehner reminded everyone that – at least publicly – “All Republicans agree that we need to fund the Department of Homeland Security and we want to stop the president’s actions in response to immigration.”
Ever the politician, Boehner “would not say whether he would back a Senate funding bill without provisions that would defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration,” reports National Journal.
Still, it’s encouraging to hear the Speaker of the House sound resolute in defense of the rule of law when so much of the political class is aching to cut a deal.
This week, conservatives from across the nation and even the globe congregate in Washington for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Each year, CPAC features prominent conservative political figures, including prospective presidential candidates, as well as panels on various issues. This year, appropriately, a panel is scheduled to address the important issue of patent reform.
We at CFIF value and advocate strong intellectual property (IP) rights, including patent rights, as much as any organization. At the same time, we support patent reform like that proposed by Congressman Robert Goodlatte (R – Virginia). The way we see it, the problem of so-called “patent trolls” (which can be an overused and unfair term, as non-practicing entities have every right to enforce legitimate patent rights in court) is largely one requiring legal reform, rather than one justifying weakening of patent rights themselves. Accordingly, we favor such reforms as requiring greater specificity in court pleadings, assessment of fees and costs to a greater number of improperly-litigious plaintiffs and discovery process reform.
Opponents of patent reform legislation incorrectly claim that it will deprive judges of discretion in assessing fees, but the fact is that discretion will remain. As we have detailed, what will change is that the presumption in awarding costs and feels will shift on the continuum toward allowing innocent victims of vexatious plaintiffs to receive compensation for having to defend against unjustified lawsuits. Reform opponents also claim that it would improperly chill the filing of lawsuits by legitimate plaintiffs. But as any reasonable person realizes, the overwhelming problem in our current litigation system is not reluctance by plaintiffs to sue, but rather excessive willingness to sue.
Accordingly, our hope is that the CPAC panel allows a full and fair presentation of both sides in this debate. To do otherwise would be a disservice to attendees, the broader debate and CPAC itself.
Texas has long been held up as the free market alternative to California’s regulation-heavy approach to public policy. Companies like Raytheon and Toyota have relocated because of the cheaper price of doing business, as have thousands of individuals.
But the competitive advantage that Texas enjoys over California could come to a screeching halt if the federal government imposes California-style regulations on the states.
The description of a March 12 event in Houston explains the threat.
“California’s tough environmental rules and planning represent the wave of the future to many planners and pundits, as well as to large parts of the federal government,” says the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. “The goal is to rein in ‘sprawl,’ based largely on questionable environmental and urban design considerations. California consciously seeks to impose a high-density, transit-focused future on the residents of the state.”
It continues, “But California’s policies do not just affect Californians. Many federal agencies, including the EPA and US Fish and Wildlife Service, have embraced the Golden State’s regulations on climate change, wetland and endangered species protections, as role models to be adopted nationally. As California-style regulations diffuse through the federal government, Texas business could soon be subject to many of the same programs and policies.”
This is a good reminder that vigilance at the federal level is necessary to protect economic freedom back home.
Consider the following as an example of how much President Barack Obama and his administration think the rule of law should bend to suit their political calculations.
The Justice Department asked a federal court on Monday to reverse its decision to halt the president’s unilateral amnesty directive within 48 hours so that Obama could assure activists attending a town hall in Miami on Wednesday that deportation waivers and work permits would be in the mail.
The expedited timeline is being objected to by Texas and the 20+ other states suing to require the Obama administration to follow federal law and give advance notice and a comment period to the public, reports the LA Times.
Fairness suggests that if the Justice Department took a week to file its request to reverse, Texas and its fellow challengers should get at least as much time to defend their position.
The Justice Department’s self-serving request highlights the central problem driving this litigation – Obama is a diva whose political calculations trump the rule of law.
The federal courts should slap down that dangerous misconception, early and often.
It looks like the surge of illegal immigration across the southern border isn’t getting any better.
“Already this calendar year, since January 1, we have had more than 20,000 people come across the border, apprehended, unauthorized. And so we have an ongoing problem on the border that Congress must step up and solve,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said while appearing on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday.
Abbott said that to stem the tide he is posting an additional 500 Texas Rangers near the border. The cost for the expanded presence will come from the state’s budget, even though responsibility for securing the border belongs to the federal government.
Abbott was on the show to discuss the Texas-led lawsuit he initiated challenging President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty program because it failed to follow federal law granting the public a notice and comment period before being implemented. Last week a federal district judge agreed with the challengers and granted a temporary injunction to halt Obama’s program.
Barely a month into office, Abbott is proving himself to be a conservative leader who knows how to get results in the courtroom and the court of public opinion.
Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) 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 CST/5:00 pm EST: Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute – SCOTUS and King v. Burwell;
4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST: Evan Moore, Senior Policy Analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative – Iran/Secretary Kerry, ISIS’ Continued Threats, Mall of America, and Syria-bound Schoolgirls;
5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST: Quin Hillyer, Contributing Editor of National Review magazine, a Senior Editor for The American Spectator magazine, and a nationally recognized authority on the American political process – Politics Today.
5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST: Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs – FCC’s Proposed Regulation of the Internet under Title II.
Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.
“The Obama administration says it sent about 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers the wrong tax information, and officials are asking those consumers to delay filing their 2014 taxes,” reports CNBC.
The massive blunder comes on the heels of a similar admission by California officials that the state sent out approximately 100,000 error-laden tax forms to residents using the state’s ObamaCare exchange, Covered California.
No timeline was apparent on when revised forms would be sent out, or whether early tax filers would be penalized by the Internal Revenue Service for submitting unknowingly false information.
Another item in the CNBC report may foreshadow the next move. Due to concerns that some people will be angered for being penalized for not buying insurance to comply with ObamaCare’s coverage mandate, the Obama administration is creating another sign-up extension.
Perhaps the IRS will get similar instructions from on high and bump back the filing deadline.
If so, expect to hear the millions of non-ObamaCare customers clamor, “Me too!”
In this week’s Freedom Minute video, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the plan by President Obama and the FCC to seize unprecedented regulatory control over the Internet by reclassifying Internet service as a public utility.
In an interview with CFIF, Dr. Gerard Gianoli, a Neuro-otologist in Louisiana and Doc Squads member, discusses how it is time for America’s doctors to put forward innovative solutions to solve the problems in our healthcare system that have only been made worse by ObamaCare, and how to say goodbye to third-party medical payments through alternative practice models.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is pushing the boundaries of its regulatory authority, as it’s set to issue a rulemaking on the basis of outdated data and faulty reasoning.
Specifically the CPSC, long known for its overzealous overregulation, voted to move forward in late December (in the midst of the holidays), with a draft rulemaking that would ban a class of chemicals called phthalates from some consumer products. Phthalates are used in a variety of consumer goods to make them more durable and to prevent plastics from shattering. CFIF’s Timothy Lee covered the issue more in-depth last week.
The circumstances surrounding CPSC’s ruling truly fly in the face of any pretense of scientific objectivity or transparency. The Commission completely ignored four years of the most recent data and made sure that no pesky third party scientists would point this out by refusing to open the peer review process to the public.
Placing the review behind closed doors also left the public in the dark about a new review process CPSC used called a cumulative risk assessment. This method is so new and untested that the EPA, an agency not exactly renowned for being a model of scientific integrity, has decided to review it before using it for its regulatory decisions. The result of using this method and general overreach of the Commission could be previously safe chemicals being banned in everyday products and replaced with unknown and potentially unsafe alternatives. The level of overreach has prompted two of CPSC’s own commissioners to question its validity.
Fortunately, the CPSC has started its public review and has opened the docket for comments from the public. Take a stand now and tell CPSC that this type of overregulation is exactly what we don’t need from them. Follow the link here to take action and comment now.
President Barack Obama seemingly loves to invite controversy and criticism for using executive discretion to rewrite or ignore federal law. He and his allies apparently believe that when critics say his actions violate the Constitution, most people assume the dispute is too complex to understand or simply motivated by ideology.
So perhaps what’s needed to focus the public’s attention is a straightforward line of argument that shows Obama deliberately disregarding a bright line rule.
The APA is a very important but little known federal law that tries to rein in the administrative state by requiring agencies to give notice and accept comments before implementing changes in policy. Because Obama did not comply with this very simple rule, his amnesty plan is, in effect, illegal.
The Obama administration is already working on an appeal to the Fifth Circuit, and time will tell whether this very straightforward application of the law to the facts is undone somehow with lawyerly sleight-of-hand.
In the meantime, critics of the Obama administration’s disregard for the rule of law can enjoy the fact that, for the moment at least, the most activist president in modern times is being stymied by the very Act that makes governmental activism possible.
“About 100,000 or 12 percent of the forms generated by Covered California have inaccuracies,” says the report. The forms are needed by California ObamaCare users to claim tax refunds and verify subsidy amounts with the IRS.
A spokesperson for Covered California said the inaccuracies are due in large part to discrepancies between the state’s records and what the insurance companies have. Despite this, the exchange sent out the forms anyway to beat the February 2 deadline.
Corrected forms are scheduled to go out later this month, but it’s unclear whether all of the 100,000 or so recipients of the inaccurate forms know they are bad. If not, they could be submitting false information to the IRS, an issue that could cause considerable problems down the road.
Expect this to add to the ire already forming ahead of Tax Day.
Once upon a time when Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was Speaker of the House, Democrats in Congress made a lot of noise about PAYGO, the fiscal policy that essentially requires new spending to be paid for with spending cuts, tax increases, or some combination of the two.
But now that ObamaCare’s IRS-imposed penalties are coming due, those same Democrats are singing a different tune.
“Three senior House members told the Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year,” the AP reports.
Interestingly, the three House members – Michigan’s Sander Levin, Washington’s Jim McDermott and Texas’ Lloyd Dogget – “[a]ll worked to help steer Obama’s law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.”
And now that the price of non-compliance with ObamaCare’s tax-raising mandates is becoming obvious, all three want to avoid a predictable constituent backlash.
Nice things cost money, and so too does so-called affordable health insurance.
“More than one-third of all House members have signed onto legislation that would repeal ObamaCare’s tax on insurance companies, which even some Democrats agree is leading to high insurance costs for millions of American families,” reports The Blaze.
People familiar with the logic of doing business understand that private firms don’t pay taxes, people do. So when ObamaCare imposes a tax on health insurance providers, that amount gets passed on to consumers as higher premiums.
With ObamaCare’s second enrollment cycle about to end, many people are experiencing this economic rule up-close-and-personal.
“I hear every day from individuals, families, and businesses in Arizona about the cost of health care,” Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is quoted as saying. “This common sense fix [i.e. repeal] will help lower out of pocket costs for hardworking Arizonans. By working together, we can provide relief for individuals, families, and employers while increasing access to quality affordable health care.”
That’s highly unlikely because ObamaCare’s regulations increase the cost of providing health care, and its complex web of subsidies is designed to hide some of that increase. Repealing a source for subsidies without also repealing the regulations that make them necessary leaves the elevated cost without a means to pay for it.
Still, it’s good to see at least some Democrats in Congress supporting the repeal of at least some part of ObamaCare. Remove enough supports, and eventually the whole architecture crumbles.
In an interview with CFIF, Michi Iljazi, Communications and Policy Manager at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, discusses how rooftop solar companies are cashing in on government handouts at the expense of taxpayers, how the subsidies hamper efforts to achieve real energy independence, and why we should oppose gas tax increases.