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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’
May 26th, 2015 at 8:25 pm
Fifth Circuit Maintains Roadblock to Obama Immigration Amnesty

Today the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift an injunction prohibiting the Obama administration from implementing an executive amnesty program for millions of illegal immigrants.

Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas who is leading a 26 state lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s amnesty order, applauded the court for stopping “a drastic change in immigration policy” since the program bypassed congressional approval. Texas is alleging significant financial burdens on state taxpayers if the federal government is allowed to proceed.

The Obama administration is now considering whether to appeal the Fifth Circuit’s opinion to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move which could backfire and derail a policy goal long sought by immigration activists.

This much we know: the rule of law has been preserved, at least for today.

H/T: New York Times

May 14th, 2015 at 9:54 am
Bipartisan Support Growing to Repeal ObamaCare Medical Device Tax

A group of 18 House Democrats sent a letter recently to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) requesting “timely passage” of a bill to repeal perhaps the most unpopular ObamaCare tax.

The medical device tax levies a 2.3 percent fee on medical devices, and is credited with causing increased prices and a decline in jobs within the manufacturing industry. Much of the Democratic support for repeal comes from members representing states with large device making companies in Minnesota and Indiana.

In a divided Congress, repealing the medical device tax may be the best way demonstrate bipartisan opposition to ObamaCare. Last year, 79 Senators voted to repeal this tax though then Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refused to bring it to a floor vote. With Republicans in control of the chamber, a vote is likely to occur.

Even if President Barack Obama vetoes the measure – which the White House has promised he will do unless Congress imposes another tax to offset the revenue loss – the mounting pressure to get rid of the medical device tax indicates that there are political victories to be had, if congressional leaders will push for them.

April 23rd, 2015 at 3:19 pm
Obama Admin Also Pressuring Kansas, Tennessee to Expand Medicaid or Lose Funds

First Florida, then Texas, and now Kansas and Tennessee have been told by the Obama administration that unless they expand Medicaid under the rules laid out in ObamaCare the federal government will withhold payments from local hospitals.

Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott is so angry at the move he’s promised to sue the Obama administration for violating a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the feds from conditioning Medicaid funding on ObamaCare expansion.

Yet this is precisely what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is doing. According to Kaiser Health News, CMS “confirmed Tuesday that it gave officials in [Kansas and Tennessee] the same message that had been delivered to Texas and Florida about the risk to funding for so-called ‘uncompensated care pools’ – Medicaid money that helps pay the cost of care for the uninsured.”

“Medicaid expansion would reduce uncompensated care in the state, and therefore have an impact on the [Low-Income Pool], which is why the state’s expansion status is an important consideration in our approach regarding extending the LIP beyond June,” a CMS official warned.

The reason states have resisted expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare is that it transforms a program currently helping discrete populations – e.g. pregnant women, the disabled, elderly, blind, and children from needy families – into a universal, taxpayer-funded health insurance program for every person earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That change translates into large amounts of new spending that will eventually lead to increased state taxes.

By making a state’s refusal to expand Medicaid a factor in deciding whether Medicaid dollars will continue to flow, the Obama administration is directly flouting a prohibition handed down by a 7-2 Supreme Court majority (liberal Justices Kagan and Breyer sided with their five more conservative colleagues). If the Supreme Court wants to ensure that its rulings will be taken seriously, it should fast-track Florida’s lawsuit and let the Obama administration know it must follow the law.

March 23rd, 2015 at 7:34 pm
Ted Cruz Jumps into the 2016 Presidential Race

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.

March 18th, 2015 at 7:44 pm
Prosecutorial Discretion Needed at the Interior Dept.

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.

March 17th, 2015 at 1:40 pm
New House Budget Solidifies Ryan’s Legacy

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.

This is deliberative democracy at its best.

March 13th, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Obama’s Legacy: Pieces of Iraq Now Part of ‘Greater Iran’

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.

March 12th, 2015 at 3:53 pm
Tom Cotton’s Letter Echoes Jesse Helms’ Defense of the Constitution

If the Obama administration thinks U.S. Senator Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) letter is a threat to their negotiations with Iran, they should consider the actions of the late Jesse Helms.

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.

March 5th, 2015 at 4:58 pm
Congress Would Rather Write Letters than Pass Laws

Reuters is reporting that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and a bipartisan group of House members sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week urging him to send weapons to the Ukrainian government in order to send a message to Russia.

“In the face of Russian aggression, the lack of clarity on our overall strategy thus far has done little to reassure our friends and allies in the region who, understandably, feel vulnerable. This needs to change,” wrote the lawmakers.

But here’s the irony. According to Reuters, “The House and U.S. Senate voted unanimously late last year for a bill authorizing Obama to provide weapons to Kiev but he has yet to decide whether to send any.”

That is, Congress voted to give Obama the discretion whether or not to send weapons to Ukraine. Now, some members are upset that he won’t enact their preferred strategy.

Just like immigration policy, Congress has the ability to limit the president’s options by passing laws that spell out exactly what he can and cannot do. Unlike immigration – where Obama’s amnesty programs are deliberately in conflict with federal law – in the case of Ukraine the president appears to be clearly within his power not to act.

It’s a sad commentary when leading members of Congress are reduced to relying on third-party lawsuits and strongly-worded letters instead of their inherent, constitutional power to create the laws of the land.

No wonder this president ignores them.

March 4th, 2015 at 12:49 pm
GOP Congress Caves on Obama Amnesty

After weeks of failing to pass a bill blocking implementation of President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, Republican leaders in Congress called it quits.

A so-called “clean” bill – one without the amnesty prohibition – passed the House of Representatives 257 – 167 yesterday, with all of the no votes coming from Republicans. The bill is expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate quickly.

Though much of the blame is being focused on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), it seems the media is conveniently forgetting that new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) let a presidential attack on constitutional separation-of-powers supersede a Senate debating procedure known as the filibuster. If the roles were reversed it is inconceivable that Harry Reid would let a procedural rule he controls thwart his sense of constitutional propriety.

By elevating a Senate tradition above Congress’ constitutional duty to make the laws, McConnell has effectively neutered his 54 member majority since it lacks the 60 votes it needs to actually govern.

Welcome to the Republican Senate. Its work product looks an awful lot like its Democratic predecessor.

February 26th, 2015 at 1:44 pm
Boehner Stands Firm on Tying DHS Funding to Amnesty Ban

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.

February 24th, 2015 at 2:26 pm
Is Obama’s Diva Status a Reason to Accelerate Amnesty Lawsuit?

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.

February 23rd, 2015 at 6:36 pm
Gov. Abbott: 20,000 Crossed Texas Border Since January 1

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.

February 18th, 2015 at 5:12 pm
Obama’s Amnesty Program Halted for Failure to Follow the Rules

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.

If so, Judge Andrew Hanen may have found it.

On Tuesday, Hanen granted a temporary injunction to Texas and more than twenty other states suing to stop Obama’s unilateral amnesty from going into effect. The reason is simple. By announcing the plan without any advance notice, Obama violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

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.

February 12th, 2015 at 7:35 pm
Obama Demagogues Staples Over Part-Time Worker Policy

Apparently, the president who has time to share his Final Four picks on national television can also squeeze in space on his schedule to erroneously charge Staples with oppressing its own workforce.

Earlier this week, Barack Obama was interviewed by BuzzFeed, an online news site. BuzzFeed claimed to have evidence that Staples, the office supply giant, threatens to fire part-time employees who work more than 25 hours a week. The reason – anything more could qualify the worker for employer-sponsored health insurance under ObamaCare. (30 hours per week is the threshold.)

Asked to respond, Obama unleashed his inner community organizer.

“I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is, but I suspect that they could well afford to treat their workers favorably and give them some basic financial security,” Obama replied. “…when I hear large corporations that make billions of dollars in profits trying to blame our interest in providing health insurance as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages, shame on them.”

On the contrary, shame on the President of the United States.

“Unfortunately, the president appears not to have all the facts,” a Staples spokesman told CNN Money. The cap on part-time work hours has been in place for a decade, and the company has many opportunities for hourly employees to move into full-time positions.

It’s striking that a man who doesn’t blink at proposing a federal budget more than $472 billion in the red next year thinks himself capable of lecturing a private business on how it should spend its profits.

Maybe he should stick with basketball brackets, and let the professionals manage the books.

February 11th, 2015 at 12:48 pm
Gallup: Obama on Track to be Most Polarizing President Ever

President Barack Obama is on pace to have the most polarized approval ratings in history, according to a new Gallup poll.

Polarized approval ratings mean the gap between those in a president’s party that approve of him compared to those in the opposition party that don’t. “So far in his presidency, there has been an average party gap of 70 points in Obama’s approval ratings, which, if it continues, would be easily the highest for a president to date,” says the Gallup summary.

For context, former President George W. Bush “is second with a 61-point gap throughout his presidency, followed by Clinton (56) and Reagan (52). The other presidents [going back to Eisenhower] had party gaps of no more than 41 points.”

As Tim explained in his column last week, it’s no surprise that people concerned about the country’s fiscal future disapprove of Obama’s job performance. Economic growth is in a nine-year rut, the percentage of the U.S. population with jobs is as low as when Jimmy Carter was in office, and the median income has actually declined since Obama’s economic “recovery” was announced.

The real question after reading through the Gallup results isn’t, What’s the matter with Republicans? It’s, How in the world can Democrats see the current president as worthy of such lofty praise?

February 4th, 2015 at 1:11 pm
IRS Delays Enforcement of ObamaCare “Clawback”

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome another politically-motivated ObamaCare delay to the stage!

Megan McArdle sums up the IRS’ decision to let those who received too much in ObamaCare subsidies last year get extra time to pay back the difference (called the law’s “clawback” provision).

“It’s not relieving you of the obligation to repay; it’s just saying that you won’t be liable for a penalty if you don’t repay by the deadline,” explains McArdle. “Interest will continue to accrue, but the interest rates that the IRS charges are actually pretty reasonable (and probably much better than what your credit card company charges). It’s the failure-to-pay penalties it layers on top – half a percentage point a month, with even stiffer penalties for failing to file – that really make your tax bill add up fast.”

That is, if the Obama IRS ever gets around to enforcing the parts of laws it doesn’t like. McArdle writes, “The IRS emphasizes that this is a one-time deal, just for 2014. But I’m not sure if you should believe it. This emphasizes one of the problems we’ve spoken about a lot in this space: The political will to impose the costs of the Affordable Care Act is a lot less strong than the will to distribute the benefits.”

The Republican establishment was once derided as the tax collector for the welfare state. If Obama and the Democratic Party can’t be bothered to administer both the costs and the benefits of their so-called health reform law, the GOP shouldn’t shoulder the burden of balancing its books.

Every politically-motivated delay in enforcing an aspect of ObamaCare is a tacit admission by its supporters that the law is unworkable in practice. Republicans should acknowledge the obvious and start afresh.

February 3rd, 2015 at 7:36 pm
Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats Vote to Shut Down DHS; Time for GOP to Play Hardball

Harry Reid (D-NV) and his Senate Democrats voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security today.

The piece of legislation they voted down was a Republican bill to fund DHS for the rest of the fiscal year with the caveat that no funds could be spent implementing President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration amnesty. Currently, the DHS budget is set to expire at the end of February.

The decision probably didn’t involve too much deliberation or anguish since Reid & Co. can count on a sympathetic media to frame the result as Republican obstruction, i.e. not letting Obama and the Democratic Party run roughshod over federal law to curry favor with millions of potential future voters.

If anything Reid and his allies probably think they helped Obama save face by shielding him from having to veto common sense legislation for naked political reasons. Now, Obama can blame Congress for not working, even though it’s the members of his own party that are throwing up roadblocks.

One thing that is clear is that Reid never would have whipped his entire caucus in opposition unless Obama had authorized it. So, call this an indirect veto of Republicans’ immigration funding maneuver and we’re right where we would have been had the bill passed and been rejected.

Obama and Reid play on the same team, so Republicans can’t let the media portray this as anything other than what it is – a high stakes dispute over whether policy gets decided according to the rule of law or the whim of one.

If the president wants to start the negotiating process earlier than expected, so be it. Republicans in Congress shouldn’t use this an excuse to cave.

There had to be a strategy to overcome the veto, at least in the court of public opinion. After today’s vote, it’s time to accelerate the time line.

February 2nd, 2015 at 8:03 pm
White House Considering More ObamaCare Exemptions

Here’s everything you need to know about the corrupting tendencies of the modern administrative state.

When the ruling elite’s social engineering policies threaten to weaken its grip on power, the law can be bent in any way that pleases them.

Exhibit A is a news article from the New York Times, which begins, “Obama administration officials and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act say they worry that the tax-filing season will generate new anger as uninsured consumers learn that they must pay tax penalties and as many people struggle with complex forms needed to justify tax credits they received in 2014 to pay for health insurance.”

The solution: “The White House has already granted some exemptions and is considering more to avoid a political firestorm.”

You read that correctly. If lots of people will be angry because ObamaCare is slated to work as designed – by ensuring that the people who received insurance subsidies actually qualified for them – it’s completely permissible to just exempt them from compliance.

This is interest group politics run amuck.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating. If Mitt Romney had said during the 2012 presidential campaign that all he needed to repeal ObamaCare was to be elected so he could not enforce the law, the Left would have been up in arms swearing to sue him in court for dereliction of duty. When Barack Obama does the same thing it’s suddenly accepted as executive discretion.

One day liberals may see a conservative reap a policy windfall thanks to Obama’s careless actions. If this is the way it’s going to be in the future, don’t be surprised to see presidents of every partisan stripe erode the rule of law by carving out exemptions for their political base. Today it’s the working poor. Tomorrow it might be trust fund kids who see their capital gains taxes go uncollected.

And then, we’ll be Greece.

January 29th, 2015 at 6:20 pm
Health Insurance Penalty Obama Decried in 2008 Coming Due in 2015

Add another bullet point to ObamaCare’s litany of broken promises.

The U.S. Treasury announced this week that on Tax Day this year, “Some 3 million to 6 million Americans will have to pay an ObamaCare tax penalty for not having health insurance last year,” reports CNN Money.

Since the penalty is the greater of $95 or 1 percent of income, the bill could bigger than expected.

To calculate possible amounts, go here.

Though it’s been awhile, some may recall that in 2008 a certain presidential candidate attacked Hillary Clinton for being open to garnishing workers’ wages if they failed to buy health insurance under her reform proposal. True to form, Barack Obama promised no such penalty if he was elected president.

Now we know the truth.