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October 24th, 2014 at 12:24 pm
Video: The Forgotten Amendment
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino questions what limits exist on the federal government and the importance of state and local sovereignty as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

October 24th, 2014 at 11:15 am
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
October 24th, 2014 at 9:09 am
Governors Graded on Efforts to Restrain Government
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at Cato Institute and Editor of DownsizingGovernment.org, discusses the 2014 fiscal policy report card on America’s Governors and how state and local taxes harm America’s competitiveness.

Listen to the interview here.

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:03 pm
Wisconsin’s Walker in Tight Reelection Race

Conservatives who want a “reformer with results” resume to run for President of the United States in 2016 should be praying that Scott Walker gets reelected this year. The Wisconsin Republican governor is in his third tough campaign for the state’s top office in four years, having initially won the office in 2010 and then surviving a recall effort in 2012. If Walker wins again in November, expect to see him become the dark horse candidate to win the GOP nomination.

But first Walker has to win reelection. And that’s no guarantee.

Robert Costa of the Washington Post has an interesting analysis of Walker’s main problem this time around: Falling 150,000 jobs short of his 2010 pledge to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin during his first term.

For his part, Walker has blamed the state’s union culture. “We don’t have a jobs problem, we have a work problem,” he said in a televised debate with his Democratic opponent. That may be true, but it’s not sitting well with some voters.

If Walker is defeated, conservatives will likely lose an important voice and option during the 2016 sweepstakes. It will also mean rollbacks of the union-busting laws he helped implement. Neither would be good. Hopefully, Walker can avoid both.

October 22nd, 2014 at 2:43 pm
Insurance Companies Got CMS Okay to Cancel Policies If ObamaCare Subsidies Invalidated

“Amy Lotven of the trade publication Inside Health Reform reports that before insurers agreed to sell coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s health insurance Exchanges in 2015, they demanded that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explicitly agree to let them cancel policies if any of the Halbig cases succeed in blocking the subsidies that carriers had been receiving in the 36 states whose ObamaCare Exchanges were not, as [ObamaCare] requires before subsidies can flow, ‘established by the State’”, writes Michael Cannon.

You’ll recall that there is a big fight over whether the Obama administration is blatantly violating its own law by making subsidies available to people who don’t qualify under the statute. And, as Cannon points out, making illegal subsidies available also subjects up to 57 million individuals and employers to illegal penalties under ObamaCare’s individual and employer mandates.

That insurance companies demanded the right to cancel policies relying on subsidies shows how concerned the industry is at being blamed for high-cost coverage when and if the government’s policy is ruled illegal. That the Obama administration agreed indicates the strength of the argument that even the executive branch should follow the law.

October 21st, 2014 at 1:50 pm
Report: Without Subsidies, ObamaCare Enrollment in Death Spiral

“Without [ObamaCare’s] premium support, premiums rise by nearly 45 percent, and enrollment falls by nearly 70 percent,” says a report by RAND Health.

The analysis is part of an evaluation commissioned by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency in charge of ObamaCare implementation.

The report’s publication follows on news that a federal district judge in Oklahoma ruled ObamaCare’s premium support (i.e. subsidies) mechanism is not available in states that use Healthcare.gov, the federal ObamaCare exchange. According to the text of the law, eligibility for subsidies depends on a citizen’s state operating its own exchange. If the law’s plain meaning is followed, RAND’s analysis will apply to citizens in more than half of the states.

The RAND Health report confirms a simple truth about ObamaCare – if people must pay the full freight of its “affordable” insurance, they will refuse.

H/T: The Daily Caller

October 20th, 2014 at 9:51 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Obama Administration
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 17th, 2014 at 6:41 pm
SCOTUS 2014: Cases to Watch
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Megan L. Brown, partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Wiley Rein LLP, discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 term, the “hot” cases currently on the docket and what issues might come before the Court later in the term.

Listen to the interview here.

October 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print
October 14th, 2014 at 12:06 pm
ObamaCare: Welcome to Politicized Medicine

Next year’s ObamaCare premiums won’t be available through Healthcare.gov – the federal insurance portal servicing 26 states – until the week after the November 4th midterm elections.

“Insurers say one big challenge for next year will involve millions of returning customers,” the AP reports. “It’s not really a technology issue, but a time crunch that also coincides with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.”

In this case, it’s not the health insurance companies who are to blame, but rather the Obama administration. Late last year when Healthcare.gov was glitching its way into infamy, news leaked that the enrollment period for 2015 would be pushed back a month – from October 15 to November 15. Everybody who could read a political calendar knew the primary motivation was to hide the true cost of ObamaCare’s second year premiums from voters before going to the polls.

This is just one more reason why it’s a bad idea to have the government in control of health care pricing – those responsible will never allow the public to hold them accountable.

H/T: Townhall Tipsheet

October 13th, 2014 at 4:18 pm
Re Progressives, What Would the Founders Do?

As we gear up for another week of politics-as-usual, it’s helpful to keep our eyes on what we’re arguing for and how we do it. In a splendid little essay about civil discourse rightly understood, political scientists Matt Parks and David Corbin explain how to keep one’s dignity when defending our republic.

What’s a critic of Progressivism to do? Follow the example of Publius: argue vigorously about the common good while judging with charity the aims of one’s opponents. Respect friends of the rights and liberties of the people wherever you find them and seek to correct them when their means don’t match their ends.

Lies should be called lies and there’s no need to assume that well-intentioned plans and proposals will end well, but a healthy measure of forbearance joined with an openness to self-criticism will do more for the cause of republican government than a conservative equivalent of the Big Smathers Lie. The result will either be to reopen the public square to civil discourse by enlivening a debate over the common good or by showing Progressives, in their intransigence, to be both cynical and unserious about the most important political questions.

In other words, we honor the public square when we assume the best of our opponents’ intentions, even if we are compelled by logic and evidence to criticize their ideas.

It’s a high bar to clear, but worth the struggle.

October 11th, 2014 at 11:27 am
Ramirez Cartoon: White House Cover-up Team
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 10th, 2014 at 9:17 am
Video: Preserving Voting Rights
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the significance of voter ID requirements, the importance of protecting both the rights and privileges of American voters and making sure every vote counts on Election Day. 

October 9th, 2014 at 3:15 pm
Arkansas’ Medicaid Expansion Violated Obama HHS’ Own Budget Neutrality Rules

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that the State of Arkansas and the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) violated federal guidelines when they agreed to expand Medicaid under a “private option” plan.

Arkansas was one of the first states to get permission from the Obama administration to expand Medicaid, but on different terms than laid out in ObamaCare.

Medicaid is the state-federal program that pays for health care services for the nation’s poor and disabled.

Under normal circumstances, Arkansas would only be allowed to get a waiver from ObamaCare’s expansion structure if it could prove that its plan would be budget neutral.

Guess what happened instead.

“According to federal regulations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has certain procedures they must follow when reviewing state requests for Medicaid waivers,” write experts at the Foundation for Government Accountability.

“One key component of any waiver is budget neutrality: states seeking waivers must demonstrate that they will not spend any more federal dollars under the waiver than they would have without the waiver. But as it turns out, the Obama Administration cut corners and ‘did not ensure budget neutrality’ requirements were actually met before approving Arkansas’ ObamaCare expansion.”

The result is an additional $778 million more in spending on Arkansas’ version of Medicaid expansion than would have occurred had HHS insisted on following its own budget neutrality rules.

The entire analysis of the GAO’s report is worth reading since it explains other serious problems with the Arkansas plan. Perhaps the most egregious is the depth at which the Democratic governor’s office and loyal state agencies went to mislead Republican state legislators on the true cost of the expansion. Evidence of bad faith negotiations like this make it impossible to have a substantive policy conversation. Even now there are reports that the governor is peddling incorrect information, and trying to silence opposition.

What’s emerging from the Arkansas fiasco is the extent to which supporters of bigger government will go to entrench their policies – truth, fairness and accountability be damned.

October 8th, 2014 at 3:50 pm
Report: IRS Failed to Disclose Info in 100s of Cases

The IRS is out-of-control.

In the last year we’ve learned that Lois Lerner and other officials in the tax-exempt unit singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny before approving their requested non-profit status.

That was followed by revelations from IRS higher ups that they mysteriously lost thousands of emails from Lerner and others during the timeframe of interest to congressional investigators.

Last week, a private jet company alleged that the IRS “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing emails and other electronic documents that the Government was required to produce.”

And now this.

“The Internal Revenue Service wrongly withheld or failed to adequately search for records in hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests, while accidentally releasing sensitive taxpayer information in other instances, an independent government watchdog found,” reports the Washington Free Beacon.

The Beacon is summarizing an analysis released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

“TIGTA sampled FOIA requests to the IRS and found 11 percent ‘in which taxpayer rights may have been violated because the IRS improperly withheld or failed to adequately search for and provide information to the requestors’.”

As an independent federal agency, the IRS has a grave obligation to be accountable to the citizens it serves, either directly through FOIA requests or indirectly through congressional oversight panels. That the IRS seems chronically incapable – and increasingly, it seems, unwilling – to honor due process and the rule of law is reason enough to launch a full-scale reconsideration of what the agency does, how it does it and what kind of people should be entrusted to follow the rules.

October 7th, 2014 at 6:06 pm
Pence-HHS Negotiations over How to Expand Medicaid Stall

A months-long negotiation over whether and how Indiana might expand Medicaid under ObamaCare may be coming to an impasse.

On Monday, Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence emerged from a meeting with federal Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell Mathews without any positive news.

“We had a substantive discussion, but we are not there yet,” Pence said in a statement quoted by the Indianapolis Star.

At issue is whether Indiana will be able to use ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion dollars in a way that moves the program in a more market-friendly direction. As I’ve written before, conservatives can support reforms to entitlement programs so long as they move in that direction.

With HHS refusing to let Indiana require modest co-pays under its expanded Medicaid plain, the next move is up to Pence. He could weaken his proposal, but doing so would sacrifice any pretense his plan has for being fiscally conservative. On the other hand, he could stand firm on principle and absorb the potentially damaging criticism that he’s leaving almost $1 billion in federal Medicaid payments on the table – all of which is new taxpayer-financed spending.

Pence is thought to be a dark horse GOP candidate for president in 2016. His decision on this policy issue will go a long way towards determining how viable such a campaign would be.

October 6th, 2014 at 6:49 pm
Expert: ObamaCare Bailout of Insurance Industry Similar to Bush Era Prescription Drug Program

The Obama administration has been catching some flak over its intent to redirect taxpayer dollars toward a controversial “risk corridor” program designed to bailout ObamaCare-friendly health insurance companies that lose too much money.

The primary line of attack stems from the absence of any specific congressional appropriations to fund the program. Congressional Republicans and the Government Accountability Office say this precludes any end-run maneuvers to pay for it anyway, while the Obama administration is ignoring opposition.

But in the drive to add this abuse of executive discretion to President Barack Obama’s long list of power grabs, a bit of history is sure to make Republican critics think twice before pushing much farther.

“But Loren Adler, research director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, points out that a similar risk-protection program in the Medicare prescription drug program does not receive an explicit annual appropriation, yet has not been challenged,” reports an entry on the Modern Health Care blog. “He thinks that makes it highly unlikely that HHS will be deterred from making the payments to insurers under the risk corridors program.”

Indeed, any federal judge reviewing a future legal challenge to HHS’ pending move would very likely analogize the two programs and conclude that if Congress has not objected to the practice in one instance, and the two cases are similar, it probably intended to defer on both. In such a scenario, the end result is a judge (rightly) telling Congress to speak more clearly and fix the law.

The upshot of all this is that it makes everyone painfully aware of how important it is for Congress to pass clear laws. Republicans aren’t responsible for ObamaCare’s poor draftsmanship, but if they ever get enough power to make changes, they should take care to make them unambiguous to interpret.

October 6th, 2014 at 4:25 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

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: Richard Morrison, Program Manager for the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Advancing Capitalism: Must Every Product in the World be Safe Enough for Children?; 

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm EDT: Dr. Tevi Troy, Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute and President of American Health Policy Institute: Stopping Ebola Before It Turns into a Pandemic;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT: Chris Edwards, Cato Institute’s Director of Tax Policy Studies and Editor of Downsizing Government.org: Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors, 2014;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EDT:  Open Mic; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Megan Brown, Partner, Wiley Rein, LLP: SCOTUS October 2014 Term.

Listen live on the Internet here.  Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

October 3rd, 2014 at 11:24 am
ObamaCare Nearing a Fannie and Freddie-Style Bailout of Insurance Companies?

Could ObamaCare’s “risk corridor” program become the health insurance industry’s equivalent of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the federally funded entities that spent $180 billion bailing out banks who issued subprime mortgages?

Stephen Moore, the chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, thinks so.

“But insurance experts warn that [the risk corridor] program creates the same moral hazard problem for health insurance that we saw in the mortgage market with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” Moore writes at Investor’s Business Daily. “The guarantee on bad mortgages encouraged bad mortgages. The guarantee against losses on ObamaCare enrollees encourages insurers to toss sound underwriting standards out the window. This didn’t turn out so well with Fannie and Freddie, which received a taxpayer-funded bailout of more than $180 billion after issuing subprime mortgages that should never have been written.”

Moore goes on to say that surveys of health insurance companies selling plans on ObamaCare exchanges say that the vast majority expect to receive a payment from the federal government to cover their losses. Estimates for the first year near $1 billion. And, since there is no cap to how much the feds will reimburse, there is no limit to how much money a company can lose and still expect a check from Uncle Sam.

Despite all this, the Obama administration is chugging ahead with plans to make payments under the risk corridor program without explicit congressional appropriations. Republicans are contesting President Barack Obama’s authority to do this – with an assist from a recent GAO legal opinion – but they should really train their fire on eliminating the risk corridor program as is. As with IRS tax credits, ObamaCare can’t survive without a convoluted shell game that hides the true cost of health care.

We’ll never get health care policy right until we can talk honestly about how it’s funded. Now would be a good time for the GOP to being that process.

October 3rd, 2014 at 10:21 am
Testing the West’s Resolve
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Steven Bucci, Director at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation, discusses U.S. attempts to build a coalition to defeat ISIS, whether ground troops are necessary to destroy the terrorist organization and President Obama’s UN Security Council presence.

Listen to the interview here.