Archive for September, 2013
September 30th, 2013 at 7:34 pm
Shaky Launch for ObamaCare Exchanges Looming

However tonight’s government shutdown/showdown plays out, tomorrow’s big news is likely to be how well the 51 ObamaCare insurance exchanges are performing.

Projections don’t look pretty, according to the New York Times.

A few of the low-lights include:

·    The District of Columbia will not be able to determine online whether people qualify for Medicaid or for a federal subsidy (the difference is crucial)

·    In Nevada, a Spanish-language version of the exchange’s website will not be ready until mid-November

·    In Maryland, small businesses will not be able to buy insurance for their employees until January

Rocky King, Oregon’s exchange director and winner of the Mr. Honesty award, tells the Times, “I have no idea what this thing’s going to look like on Oct. 1. We could crash and burn and have to close it down.”

We’ll know soon enough.

September 30th, 2013 at 7:19 pm
Breaking Worse: How Government’s Goofy Response to Meth Assaults Liberty

Meth may have inspired “Breaking Bad,” one of the greatest shows in the history of television, but the drug also inspired some of the dumbest laws in U.S. history. 

As part of a futile attempt to reduce meth production, state and local governments are engaged in an inept and insulting war on innocent Americans.

Pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in cold and allergy medicines such as Sudafed, Actifed, Contac and Claritin-D, can be used as a component in methamphetamine production. Upon realizing this, governments reacted in a truly ridiculous way. Rather than punishing the people who cook and distribute the dangerous illegal drug, governments have attacked the freedoms of responsible adults by making it an extraordinary hassle to obtain simple cold medicines.

States have forced retailers to put pseudoephedrine products behind the counter and placed strict limits on how much pseudoephedrine a customer can purchase. Some state and local governments even require a doctor’s prescription to purchase these previously over-the-counter and widely available cold and allergy relief products.

In a chilling case of Big Brother gone wild, a national database has even been devised to collect names, birthdates and other personal data in order to track individuals who buy pseudoephedrine.

Such laws are an affront to the presumption of innocence, since the policies operate on the nonsensical basis that every person walking into a Walgreens to buy a box of Actifed is guilty of cooking meth.

To make matters worse, none of these laws that harm innocent Americans struggling with colds and allergies actually prevent people who want to cook meth from doing so. In some cases, meth producers pay groups of people to purchase legal amounts of pseudoephedrine for them. With a large enough band of helpers, they still easily collect more than enough pseudoephedrine to cook meth.

Other meth producers simply respond by inventing newer meth recipes that require less pseudoephedrine. In “Breaking Bad,” meth producers bypass pseudoephedrine restrictions by eliminating pseudoephedrine altogether from their recipes.

Many law enforcement personnel see the pseudoephedrine restrictions as a joke and even admit they fail to curb meth production. According to a report by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, only 40 percent of law enforcement officers believe that decreasing the sales limits for pseudoephedrine is an effective policy option.

It’s clear that no matter what ludicrous laws governments dream up in an attempt to stop meth production, meth cooks will quickly figure out ways around them. In reality, the laws are only successful in keeping pseudoephedrine products out of the hands of Americans hoping to cure a stuffy nose.

If government is to fight meth, it should do so by penalizing producers and distributors, rather by harassing law-abiding Americans.

September 30th, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Democrats Will Risk a Government Shutdown in Defense of THIS?
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Another day, another front-page headline announcing yet another ObamaCare dysfunction.  At CFIF we’ve detailed the ongoing litany, and today brought another in that inglorious procession.  Yet the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats remain willing to force a government shutdown defending it?

Page A1 of today’s Wall Street Journal reads, “Late Snags On Eve Of Health Rollout” with the law’s debut set for tomorrow:

Obama Administration officials scrambling to get the health law’s insurance marketplaces ready to open on Tuesday keep hitting technical problems, while government-funded field workers across the country say they aren’t fully prepared to help Americans enroll in the program.”

Meanwhile, in a separate report on the looming government shutdown, the Journal examines which federal agencies would be affected.  It highlights that mail delivery would continue, Social Security checks would still be mailed, transportation functions such as air traffic control and Amtrak would continue and national security services would be exempt.  So who would be hit?  Well, the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), among others:

Which agencies would be most affected?

The Environmental Protection Agency would be among the most disrupted, furloughing all but 1,069 of its 16,200 workers, according to plans that agencies filed with the White House.  The National Labor Relations Board would send home all but 11 of its 1,611 employees, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission would furlough 652 of its 680 employees.  Agencies devoted to national security and human safety would remain more fully staffed.”

Wait…  Remind me again why a shutdown is a bad thing for conservatives and libertarians?

September 30th, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: The ObamaCare Launch
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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.

September 27th, 2013 at 6:35 pm
Even More Stupid Ways Government Wastes Your Money

The Atlantic magazine tallied billions of dollars of corporate welfare pocketed by the NFL and its teams through stadium subsidies, taxpayer-funded workout facilities and other handouts. Gregg Easterbrook, the author of the piece, pointed out the hypocrisy of Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s supposedly fiscally conservative governor, who “took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility” while the legislature was out of session. The move benefited the Redskins’ billionaire owner, Dan Snyder.

Other recent state and local handouts to NFL teams highlighted in the article include:

  • More than $1 billion dollars in federal, state and local tax dollars to build and later renovate the Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints;
  • As much as $950 million courtesy of Santa Clara, Calif., taxpayers to build the San Francisco 49ers new stadium;
  • $506 million to the Minnesota Vikings to subsidize a large portion of the cost of the team’s new stadium (even though the state was facing a $1.1 billion deficit);
  • $390 million of Washington State taxpayers money to underwrite construction costs of the Seattle Seahawks stadium that opened in 2001; and
  • $4 million a year from the state of Hawaii to entice (bribe) the NFL to schedule the Pro Bowl in Honolulu.


The National Science Foundation awarded the Smithsonian Institute a $443,010 grant to study tree biodiversity in China, found.

According to the project’s grant abstract, the nearly half-million dollar grant is justified because it “advance(s) understanding of how tree biodiversity determines the functional aspects of forests and to test hypotheses concerning the resilience of forests to global change.”

The Smithsonian Institute did not respond to numerous requests by to answer questions about the taxpayer-funded grant (probably because the Smithsonian Institute knew that the project is a total waste of tax dollars).


The Netflix original series, “House of Cards,” reveals the dirty underbelly of Washington politics. It seems disturbingly fitting that the show pockets millions in handouts and tax credits at the expense of Maryland taxpayers to film the series in the Old Line State.

Southern Maryland News Net reports that Governor Martin O’Malley demanded state lawmakers increase the handouts available to film productions such as “House of Cards” during the 2013 legislative session — even after he raised taxes an astounding 40 times.

The award-winning show may be downright offensive to many of the taxpayers who subsidize its production. “House of Cards” routinely contains enough nudity and coarse language to make Hugh Hefner blush.

September 27th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
Top 10 Biggest Civic Pension Liabilities in America

“Most of the 50 local governments with the largest pension debt have worker retirement liabilities that are greater than their annual tax revenue, according to a new report from the credit-rating firm Moody’s,” says the lead in a Washington Post story.

The emerging leader in the deepening pension saga is Chicago, whose “pension liabilities were equal to 678 percent of its revenues as of 2011,” notes US News & World Report.

Here are the others in the top (or is it bottom?) ten:

Rank Debt Issuer Pension Liabilities as Percentage of Revenue

1. Chicago 678.2 percent

2. Cook County (Ill.) 381.6

3. Denver County School District 1 341.6

4. Jacksonville, Fl. 326.9

5. Los Angeles 324.5

6. Metro. Water Reclamation District of Chicago 323.4

7. Houston 312.4

8. Dallas 292.5

9. Clark County (Nev.) School District 259.1

10. Phoenix 240.2

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September 26th, 2013 at 4:52 pm
Senate Dem Backs Individual Mandate Delay

Referring to a yearlong delay in imposing ObamaCare’s individual mandate, Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, told Bloomberg, “There’s no way I could not vote for it. It’s very reasonable and sensible.”

Indeed, it is. Conservative health policy experts James Capretta and Yuval Levin make a persuasive case on the merits for doing so. The core of their argument: It’s just plain fair.

Ever since the Obama administration decided to delay the employer mandate for a year Republicans have argued that the same relief should be extended to individuals and families.

Putting a one-year delay of the individual mandate into each of the next “must-pass” bills would give Republicans in Congress the leverage they need to put Democrats on the record.

Is shutting down the government more important than treating families at least as good as businesses? Is raising the debt ceiling?

If liberals want to bring government to a standstill to defend discrimination, let them.

Chances are, if Republicans pursue this strategy more red state Democrats like Manchin will also come to see the GOP’s delay proposal as “very reasonable and sensible.”

As Manchin points out, “If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”

Sounds good to me, Senator. Time to convince a few more members of your caucus.

September 25th, 2013 at 5:19 pm
Self-Employed Health Insurance Rates Soaring as ObamaCare Nears

With ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges going online next week, there is suddenly an avalanche of information confirming that the law is bending the cost curve significantly upward for people already buying health insurance on the individual market.

The most famous example so far is conservative pundit Michelle Malkin’s notice that her high-end PPO policy is being eliminated by her insurance provider in order “to meet the requirements of the new laws,” i.e. ObamaCare.

Jim Angle of Fox News describes how a Kentucky family’s monthly premium is set to spike from $333 to $965. Humana, the family’s insurance provider, explains that “Increases aren’t based on your individual claims or changes in health status. Many other factors go in to your premium including: [ObamaCare] compliance, including the addition of new essential health benefits.”

Those “new essential health benefits” are a big part of what will make many plans bought by individuals and families unaffordable under ObamaCare.

As I write in this week’s column, the disruptive impact of ObamaCare on the self-employed is just one element of many that, taken together, articulates ObamaCare’s biggest lie.

Defund, repeal or replace – whichever it is, this law cannot be allowed to stand.

September 25th, 2013 at 4:32 pm
This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
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Lost in all of the other drama surrounding the possibility of a government shutdown beginning next week (zero hour is October 1) is this fact: the city of Washington D.C., whose budget is appropriated by Congress (though most of the revenue is raised within the city), will also have to scale back its operations should a continuing resolution not get approved. Or at least everyone except lunatic D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray thinks so. From WAMU in D.C.:

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray today declared that the city’s 32,000 employees were all “essential” and should be allowed to remain on the job during a possible federal government shutdown that could start next week.

In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget director Sylvia Burwell, Gray wrote: “I have determined that all operations of the District of Columbia are ‘excepted’ activities essential to the protection of public safety, health, and property and therefore will continue to be performed during a lapse in appropriations.”

32,000 employees and not a single one can be spared? Let’s be honest: the city’s going to be a simmering urban hellhole either way. Why not at least save some coin for a few days?

September 24th, 2013 at 8:38 pm
Henry Porter’s Foolish, Outrageous and Wrong Take on Guns in America

Writing last week in The Observer, English columnist Henry Porter made a complete fool of himself. And it’s not that Porter is always a hopeless nincompoop. In fact, he is generally a reasonable and compelling writer who defends civil liberties and criticizes the growing government surveillance state in the U.K., the U.S. and beyond.

But on September 21, Porter penned a rant that was so ill-informed, off-base and ridiculous, that it called his abilities as a columnist – and his sanity – into question.

Exploiting the tragic story of the Navy Yard shooting to grind an anti-gun axe, Porter called gun violence in America “an international humanitarian crisis” and “a quasi civil war.”

Porter continues:

‘That’s America,’ we say, as news of the latest massacre breaks – last week it was the slaughter of 12 people by Aaron Alexis at Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard – and move on. But what if we no longer thought of this as just a problem for America and, instead, viewed it as, if you like, that calls for outside intervention? As citizens of the world, perhaps we should demand an end to the unimaginable suffering of victims and their families – the maiming and killing of children – just as America does in every new civil conflict around the globe.

The annual toll from firearms in the U.S. is running at 32,000 deaths and climbing, even though the general crime rate is on a downward path (it is 40% lower than in 1980). If this perennial slaughter doesn’t qualify for intercession by the UN and all relevant NGOs, it is hard to know what does.

While Porter’s point about America’s pompous and condescending tone that becomes apparent each time our leaders dare to chastise other nations when we are guilty of some of the same offenses reads as completely legitimate, the rest of his argument is utter nonsense.

Yes, the death toll from guns in the U.S. is about 32,000 a year. But over 19,000 of those gun deaths are suicides. In fact, about 61 percent of firearms deaths in America are suicides — less than 35 percent are homicides.

Since suicide rates in the U.S. and the U.K. are nearly identical – 12 per 100,000 U.S. residents and 11.8 per every 100,000 U.K. residents annually– it’s inaccurate to say the relative ease of accessing firearms in the U.S. leads to more suicides.

What is accurate to say is that gun deaths are decreasing in America, and have been for some time. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data released in May, homicides in America have decreased from 7 per 100,000 residents in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 residents in 2010. So if Porter wants an alphabet soup of useless NGOs and throngs of well-meaning, but ignorant anti-gun activists to invade America to take our guns in hopes of protecting us from ourselves, he’s too late.

It seems Porter’s grand dream for America is to make our nation one big gun-free zone. Well, he needs to look no further than the Navy Yard shooting he is so busily perverting to show just how poorly that would work: the Navy Yard tragedy occurred in a gun-free zone…in a gun-free city. In fact, every mass shooting in America over the last 65 years except for one occurred in a gun-free zone. (Which makes sense, since gunmen looking to cause maximum harm know that no one in a gun-free zone is capable of fighting back.)

Certainly any act of violence is revolting and any injury or life lost at the hands of an evildoer is tragic – whether the criminal’s weapon of choice was a fist or a gun, a stone or a sword, an arrow or a nuclear warhead.

It would benefit Porter and other anti-gun extremists to recognize that the criminal, not the weapon, is the problem.

September 24th, 2013 at 6:35 pm
ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate Delay is Purely Political

Sarah Kliff, a liberal health policy blogger at Wonkblog, explains why the Obama administration won’t delay the individual mandate like it has other elements of ObamaCare.

“…all the delays so have one thing in common: They erased political headaches for the law while barely denting the number of people that the health overhaul will cover in 2014,” writes Kilff. “The delays Republicans are asking for now would cause major political and substantive headaches for the law while sharply reducing the number of people it covers.”

The political headaches Kliff alluded to include vociferous opposition by businesses to the employer mandate. That’s because, once implemented, the employer mandate – the requirement to provide government-approved health insurance on any firm employing 50 or more full-time workers or pay a fine – will very likely result in shedding jobs to avoid compliance costs.

“This predictable employer response is a very good reason to want to postpone the mandate until after the midterm,” wrote Walter Russell Mead said when the employer mandate delay was announced this summer. “Nobody wants to run as an ally of the job-killing President whose policies led your voters’ employers to dump their health insurance.”

It’s both refreshing and appalling to see an ObamaCare cheerleader like Kliff admit that the only kind of acceptable delays are the ones that politically advantage the Obama administration.

No wonder opponents see the only real solution to ObamaCare’s metastasizing problems as repealing and starting over.

September 24th, 2013 at 1:56 pm
Gallup: View that Gov’t is too Powerful Reaches All-Time High Under Obama
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Last week, we highlighted how Obama’s hyperkinetic expansion of federal government power has only served to drive Americans’ trust in it to a record low:

Presidents like Reagan and Clinton who publicly commit to moderating federal government expansion have increased Americans’ trust in government competence.  In contrast, President Obama seeks at every turn to enlarge the federal government, but has degraded trust in it to all-time lows.  We can thank Obama for few things, but reaffirming Reagan’s observation that government has become more of a problem than a solution is one of them.”

This week, a separate Gallup poll affirms Obama’s unintended causal relationship.  Specifically, the belief that the federal government is too powerful has reached a record level:

Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the federal government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010.  At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the government has too much power.  Thirty-two percent now say the government has the right amount of power.  Few say it has too little power.”

When Obama entered office, the disparity between those saying the federal government possessed too much power versus those saying it possessed the right amount or too little power was just 1 point, 50% to 49%.  Today, the disparity has ballooned to 21%, proving welcome confirmation that Americans still tend to believe that limited government is the best government.

September 23rd, 2013 at 5:31 pm
Senate Immigration Bill to Help Illegals Convicted of Other Crimes

Here’s the immigration reform version of “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

Speaking to attendees at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual conference, Esther Olavarria, the White House’s director of immigration reform, highlighted some provisions of the Senate’s bill that she would like the public to ignore.

Making it easier for illegal immigrants convicted of crimes to stay in the country got special attention.

In Olavarria’s telling, the Senate bill reverses a 1996 law that says any criminal conviction can serve as the basis for deportation. The new language would exempt convictions followed by a suspended sentence, meaning that deportation would not be an option if the offender gets probation instead of jail time.

Bear in mind, the conviction referred to is for a crime separate from illegally entering the country.

Thus, if passed, the Senate bill would not only excuse the foundational illegality of unlawfully entering the country, it would further protect from prosecution those who have been convicted, but not yet served jail time.

But if you haven’t heard about this controversial change in law, Olavarria explains why.

“We haven’t played [them] up because we want to be able to maintain them as we go through the legislative process,” she told the conference attendees. “The bill has a number of other important provisions that have stayed under the radar, and we’d actually like to keep them under the radar.”

That’s because the White House knows it can’t win an open and honest debate about granting illegal immigrants not one, but (at least) two free passes when it comes to breaking the law.

This subterfuge is yet another reason to scrap the Senate’s bill and start over.

H/T: The Daily Caller

September 23rd, 2013 at 4:58 pm
THIS WEEK’s RADIO SHOW LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
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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): Fran Smith, Board Member and Adjunct Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: Cuts to Food Stamp and Nutrition Programs;

4:30 (CST)/5:30 (EST): Christine Harbin-Hanson, National Policy Analyst at Americans for Prosperity: ObamaCare and Exempt Me;

5:00 (CST)/6:00 pm (EST): Lacy Crawford, author of “Early Decision”: College Admissions Frenzy; and

5:30 (CST)/6:30 pm (EST): Timothy Lee, Senior Vice President at CFIF: Expanding Size and Power of Federal Government and the Obama Administration’s Independent NSA Review Board.

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

September 23rd, 2013 at 12:26 pm
North Carolina Joining the Low Tax Movement

North Carolina will soon look a lot more appealing to Americans looking to make more money, start a new business or live the good life.

The Tar Heel state recently overhauled its tax code for the better. The wise policy decisions are “expected to move the Tar Heel State from 44th to 17thplace in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index,” according to an op-ed in Forbes magazine.

What does that mean for North Carolina? Well, if other low-tax states like Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Washington are any indication, North Carolina will soon be blessed with “more job creation, capital formation and higher wages.”

AccountingWEB, an accounting news website, pointed out last month that state tax rates are redrawing the population map – and redirecting money around the country.

“A recent review of IRS data from 1040 forms filed in 1995 through 2010 showed a clear pattern of people moving to states with lower personal income tax rates, especially those with no tax,” according to the website.

From 1995 to 2010, “ the nine states that have no personal income tax – Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming – gained $146.2 billion in adjusted gross income (AGI) .” Collectively, however, “the areas with the highest personal income tax – California, Hawaii, Oregon, Iowa, New Jersey, Vermont, New York, Maine, and Washington, DC – lost $107.4 billion AGI.”

“Looked at another way, the ten states with the lowest per capita state and local tax burden netted an increase of $69.9 billion in AGI. The ten states with the highest state and local tax burden per capita lost a whopping $139 billion in AGI,” AccountingWEB found.

North Carolina leaders are wise to realize that taxes matter and act accordingly. The move, as the research shows, will mean more people with more money to create more jobs for the state.

September 20th, 2013 at 5:36 pm
The Sting of Friendly Rebuke
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The Second City is far from the first place one would expect to produce a devastating satire of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The Chicago improv troupe, which — along with the Groundlings in Los Angeles — is one of two major feeder programs for Saturday Night Live, is part of an artistic community whose political sensibilities overwhelmingly incline towards the president. Moreover, they’re located right in his back yard.

The video below, however, — produced back when it still looked like the president would pursue an inept war with Syria rather than the inept peace we have now — is a brilliantly pointed takedown of Obama and his apostles — and also of the entire political sensibility they represent. That it is clearly done through the clenched teeth of sympathists only makes it all the more enjoyable.

September 20th, 2013 at 3:58 pm
Wisconsin Unions Losing Members Post-Walker Reforms

Arguably, the most important part of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reforms of public employee unions was instituting an annual vote by members on whether or not to stay.

Two years later, Wisconsin’s unions are reeling.

“Under Governor Walker’s 2001 union-reform law, a majority of union members have to vote each year to recertify the union as their representative. If less than 50% of members vote to keep the union and pay union dues, the union effectively loses its ability to bargain for wages,” says an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

It looks like there’s a rush for the exits.

“A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state affiliate of the NEA, said recently, ‘It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification…’”

To date, 13% of Wisconsin’s school districts and 39 state and municipal units have been decertified since the law went into effect.

Wisconsin’s experience confirms that, when given a choice, many public employees – and especially teachers – don’t see the value of belonging to a union.

Kudos to Governor Walker for giving them a forum to make that choice.

September 20th, 2013 at 1:38 pm
House Report: More Problems with ObamaCare Navigators

If you’re looking for talking points to defend the House GOP’s vote to defund ObamaCare today, look no farther than a report released by the chamber’s Government Oversight and Reform committee.

In it, several alarming abuses are described relating to the health law’s controversial “navigators” program. Navigators, CFIF readers will recall, are taxpayer-financed middle men.

Thanks to the House committee’s report, we now know that:

·    The Obama administration has failed to create adequate training standards for Navigators, even though the administration assumes most Navigators will lack prior knowledge of ObamaCare or health insurance markets.

·    Allowing organizations that receive Navigator funding to pay their employees based on the number of individuals they enroll creates an incentive for those employees to provide biased or incomplete information about ObamaCare to maximize enrollment.

·    Despite the statutory requirement that Navigators be free of conflicts of interest, the administration has decided that individuals employed by Navigator organizations will not have to disclose that they are paid per enrollee to individuals with whom they interact.

·    Neither Congress nor an independent entity reviewed the training materials for Navigators, despite the statutory requirement that Navigators provide “fair and impartial information.”

·    Moreover, the incentives that encourage Navigators to maximize enrollment raise the risk of massive fraudulent spending on Medicaid and exchange subsidies for individuals who do not meet eligibility requirements.

·    And get a load of this – Substantial risks remain because the administration decided not to require background checks and fingerprinting of individuals hired by Navigator organizations.

These are just a few of the many, MANY reasons to defund ObamaCare.

Check out the entire report here.

September 20th, 2013 at 12:45 pm
Ridiculous State Sales Tax Rules

Avalara, a company that claims to provide “the fastest, easiest, most accurate and affordable way to manage sales tax compliance,” has released an entertaining video highlighting some of the craziest state sales tax rules in America.

In Colorado, according to Avalara, paper cups aren’t subject to state sales taxes, but the straws and lids needed to make them portable are.

Outdoor pool cleaning services are exempt from sales taxes in Nebraska. Indoor pool cleaning services, however, are taxed in the Cornhusker State – even though the same companies generally clean both indoor and outdoor pools.

Perhaps the dumbest sales tax rule in the U.S. comes from New York where there are no sales taxes on bagels…unless the bagel is sliced in half.

Dumb tax rules such as these increase prices for business (who have to hire companies like Avalara to comply with the litany of confusing sales tax regulations) and consumers. Instead of sticking some goods and services with punitive sales tax rates and creating loopholes to exempt others from being taxed at all, states should work to ensure sales taxes are as low as possible across the board on everything.

September 20th, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Pro-Amnesty Activists Besiege White House

How’s this for gratitude?

A group of pro-amnesty activists chained themselves to the White House fence this week demanding that President Barack Obama stop deporting an estimated 1,000 illegal immigrants a day, reports USA Today.

The chain gang members are affiliated with the National Day Labor Organizing Network. Their specific demand is pretty breathtaking, even by liberal standards.

From their radical perspective, President Obama “has the power to reduce deportations, the legal authority to expand deferred action, and the political obligation to lead the national debate through bold action.” “Unless the President alters course, he risks cementing his legacy as having presided over the most anti-immigrant administration in history,” NDLON’s executive director said in a statement to the Washington Post.

Remember, this is the same president who unilaterally implemented the DREAM Act last summer through executive order, even though the bill has never been passed by Congress. By presidential fiat, up to 1.6 million illegal immigrants will not be deported as required by law.

But NDLON wants more. They claim that despite any explicit statutory or constitutional authority the president has the power to expand deferred action to all illegal immigrants, effectively granting amnesty to 11 million people.

To his credit, President Obama says it can’t be done. Doing so “would be ignoring the law in a way that would be very difficult to defend legally,” Obama told an interviewer on Telemundo.

Much like the administration’s decision last week not to grant an ObamaCare waiver to certain unions, the president’s refusal to double-down on lawless amnesty is an encouraging sign that some measure of respect for the rule of law is emerging at the White House.

Let’s see if it lasts.