Posts Tagged ‘transparency’
May 18th, 2015 at 6:13 pm
CMS Hush-Hush on New ‘Epic’ Medicaid Rules

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services won’t say what’s coming before it announces new rules for long-term managed care, the first in 13 years.

“The number of people enrolled roughly quadrupled, from 105,000 in 2004 to 389,000 in 2012,” reports National Journal. “And overall Medicaid spending on long-term care is projected to balloon from $60 billion annually to more than $100 billion in 2023, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated, as the baby boomers get older and require more care.”

Health care industry leaders are anxiously awaiting the new regulations without any indication of what’s coming. CMS has been working on the updated regulatory scheme for more than a year, and so far is keeping the people most effected in the dark.

“It’s a lot like the recent Mayweather-Pacquiao fight,” a representative of managed care plans is quoted as saying. “There’s lots and lots of hype around it, and it’s either going to be epic or it’s going to kind of fizzle.”

With President Barack Obama’s penchant for going big, it will be shocking if his administration opts for fizzle instead of epic. That nameless bureaucrats have this much control over major policy decisions says a lot about the real do-nothing tendencies of Congress. Rather than debate and deliberate over such a consequential matter, Members of Congress have outsourced their lawmaking function to an executive agency.

That’s not leadership. It’s a dereliction of duty.

April 28th, 2015 at 9:42 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Cheshire Candidate
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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.

March 5th, 2015 at 5:32 pm
Geraghty: Clinton Email Scandal Opened Door to Foreign Spies

Jim Geraghty of National Review writes in his “Morning Jolt” newsletter (subscription required) today that the scandal involving Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account to send and receive all of her official digital correspondence as Secretary of State is a real problem, not just another iteration of ‘gotcha politics.’

Among the many problems associated with Clinton’s use of a private account as her official email address – including, but not limited to, systematic evasion of federal record-keeping rules, thwarting of public FOIA requests, and irretrievably deleting potentially damaging messages – Geraghty points out a potentially even bigger concern.

“We don’t know if foreign intelligence services ever cracked the (apparently flawed) code and got to read Hillary’s private emails,” Geraghty writes. “We do know that we would be fools to assume they hadn’t. This prospect makes a lot of Obama’s first-term foreign policy look a little different in retrospect. Was there any particular time when a foreign power seemed one step ahead of our policies? Did Moscow, Beijing, or other foreign capitals seem to know what we were thinking in our negotiations before we began? Any of our spies get burned, or sources of intelligence dry up? Was Hillary Clinton’s email effectively a leak all along?”

Though we may never know for sure, “if foreign spies were reading the email of the Secretary of State for four years, it represents nothing less than a catastrophe, and one that is entirely the fault of Hillary Clinton herself.”

It’s also an epic failure of responsibility that should severely undercut Clinton’s claim that she has the judgment to be Commander-in-Chief.

February 12th, 2015 at 6:36 pm
GOP Senators: Obama Admin Officials “Evading” Whether Backup Plan Exists If Supremes Strike Down Subsidies

Does the Obama administration have a backup plan if the Supreme Court interprets ObamaCare according to its terms and prohibits federal subsidies to Americans in 36 states?

If so, top administrators at Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury aren’t sharing.

That lack of transparency – and the havoc it could wreck on millions of mandatory ObamaCare users – angers a group of powerful Senate Republicans.

“I want to make certain that the government has notified people who have signed up through the HHS insurance exchange – including the thousands of Georgians who were forced to enroll after ObamaCare cancelled their health plans – of the potential consequences of the Court ruling against the government, especially given the fact that the cost of the program could be significantly increased,” Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said in a statement.

“The Obama administration needs to be forthcoming about its backup plans so my constituents can make their own backup plans.”

Isakson and other Republicans serving on the Senate Finance Committee sent a strongly worded letter to several government agencies demanding details of any contingency plans. In it they charge HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen with “lack of candor” and “evad[ing] the issue when it was raised at hearings before the Committee this week.”

Consider this another unfulfilled promise of “the most transparent administration in history.

August 21st, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Judge Orders Release of Fast and Furious Documents

Soon the American people may finally get some clarity about the Fast and Furious scandal.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the Department of Justice must provide a list of documents related to the gun-running scheme that it says are protected by executive privilege. The list will be turned over to investigators at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).

Disclosing the list will allow House investigators to challenge DOJ’s privilege claim for shielding each document, a case-by-case process that will likely result in at least some transparency into the murky program that enabled Mexican drug cartels to kill a U.S. Border Agent and scores of Mexicans.

H/T: National Review Online

August 12th, 2014 at 6:06 pm
Signs Emerge that ObamaCare Enrollment Is Dropping

It looks like the Obama administration’s much celebrated achievement of 8 million ObamaCare enrollments is actually dropping over time.

“The nation’s third-largest health insurer [Aetna] had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20,” writes Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily. “At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to ‘just over 500,000’ by the end of the year.”

While no other insurance company has publicly reported declines as steep as Aetna, many others have not denied it is happening during recent conference calls discussing earnings.

Some attrition in ObamaCare signups is to be expected since a number of major life events could cause a change in status. Getting a new job with health benefits, for example. But the Obama administration’s refusal to publicize monthly enrollment numbers makes it impossible to get a clear picture of how well the law is working.

Which may be precisely the goal.

July 22nd, 2014 at 10:51 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Most Transparent Administration Ever
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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.

October 26th, 2012 at 11:58 am
Podcast: The Liberal War on Transparency
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Christopher Horner, New York Times bestselling author and Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow, discusses his latest book, “The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information ‘Criminal.'”

Listen to the interview here.

July 24th, 2012 at 7:04 pm
An Answer to the Transparency Question

Victor Davis Hanson makes a modest proposal:

So how much do we wish to detour from the issues to know about the background of either candidate Romney or incumbent Obama? Some sort of compromise seems in order. If transparency is really what the public demands, and if these issues distract attention from a necessary debate over the economy, then in bipartisan fashion let us now demand full disclosure from both candidates: ten years of income tax returns from each, full and complete access for journalists to all known medical records of each, and complete release of all undergraduate and graduate grades, test scores, and other records.

Romney may not wish to release a decade’s worth of careful tax planning and investment that might reveal him to be more concerned about making money and keeping most of it than about outsourcing or foreign bank accounts. Obama may likewise be embarrassed over a prior undisclosed ailment, or a relatively unimpressive Occidental or Columbia record that would belie his media reputation as the “smartest” man ever to serve as president in the nation’s history. Perhaps for much of August we might hear that Romney had a gargantuan Swiss bank account, or more bankers in the Caribbean than we had surmised. Maybe Obama smoked more marijuana than he has admitted to or received lots of Cs and even some Ds in International Relations — grades that would make it almost impossible for most students to get into Harvard Law School.

I predict that if they do release their records, each man reinforces the central objection to his candidacy: Mitt gets hit for his money; Obama for his record.

June 26th, 2012 at 5:50 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: The Most Open and Transparent Administration in History
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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.

June 21st, 2012 at 6:59 pm
A Sound Worth a Thousand Words
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The following is an excerpt from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s media briefing earlier today, where he was dogged by questions about President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege in the Fast and Furious case:

Q: Jay, you said to an earlier question that there was no White House cover-up involved in these documents that the President had declared privilege on. And you also said that, just again, that the President is just trying to protect the constitutionally enshrined power of the executive power to make decisions independently. In the documents in question is there any information that if put on the public record would jeopardize national security interest or embarrass the White House?

MR. CARNEY: Well, those are — (audience laughter) — I’m not going to give you a readout of documents that are under question here and relate to the assertion of privilege. What I can tell you is that there is nothing in these documents that pertains to the Fast and Furious operation. And I would simply note and have you ponder the fact that the Attorney General referred this to the Inspector General for investigation, and the Inspector General has access to all documentation as a member of the executive branch.

Q I guess the question is are you declaring it mostly on principle to ensure the separation of power or is there an issue of national security —

MR. CARNEY: Thank you for phrasing that. This is entirely about principle. It has nothing to do — (audience laughter) — no, no, this has nothing to do — we have been absolutely clear about the fact that this operation used a tactic that originated in a field office that was flawed, that was wrong, and that had terrible consequences for the Terry family, and should not have been employed. And this Attorney General, when he learned about it, put an end to it and referred it for investigation.

There was a time when the Briefing Room media wouldn’t have laid a finger on the president over something like this. Now they’re laughing in his Press Secretary’s face.

Probably not a bad time to update that resume, Jay. And Barack, you might want to have a spare handy too.

June 14th, 2012 at 8:52 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Pinocchio In Chief
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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.

May 4th, 2012 at 6:27 pm
Why Obama’s Dearth of Press Conferences Is Important

Veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler on why presidential press conferences – and Barack Obama’s distaste for them – are an important issue:

Press conferences are extraordinarily important for several reasons. A number of questions are asked on different topics. The pressure of being on national TV forces the president to explain his thinking. The public gets to actually see the president think and understand how he comes to his conclusions, an invaluable public service.

What’s more, the prospect of a press conference forces the White House to think through its own views. Everybody in the West Wing, including the president, has to stop and consider just what they are doing and why. Often the agencies are mined for answers about current policies so that White House aides can prepare the president, giving the West Wing valuable feedback about what’s going on.

My guess for why Obama doesn’t submit himself to rapid-fire questions about the issues of the day: there are no witty phrases to justify regulations and rhetoric that keep millions out of work while adding trillions to the deficit.

Better to just stay quiet.

November 4th, 2011 at 6:55 pm
California Grows Deficit, Cuts Transparency Website

More bad news from the Tarnished State:  A memo circulated by Democratic Assembly leaders pegs California’s budget deficit for next year at $8 billion, more than double the $3.1 billion Governor Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats projected just a few months ago.  In (un?)-related news, Brown’s office shut down a transparency website from the Schwarzenegger-era that made far-flung government documents easily available.  Now, visitors are redirected to some of the relevant primary sources, but many others are not listed.

In both cases, the price of reliable information seems to be too little, too late.

October 25th, 2011 at 10:12 am
Paul Ryan, Mark Begich Have Best Congressional Websites

The Congressional Management Foundation, a non-profit entity that rates congressional websites, gave top marks to the office portals belonging to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Mark Begich (D-AK).  Besides artistic eye appeal, one of the key elements of a superior website is the ease with which visitors can access important information.

On that score, Ryan and Begich’s websites appear to be outliers.  According to Congressional Management, “A significant number of member websites lack basic educational and transparency features and content valuable to their constituents.”  Then again, if you’ve ever encountered the ugly unhelpfulness of most government organs, you probably already knew that.

April 28th, 2011 at 9:52 am
No Transcripts, No Transparency

All along, the issue of Barack Obama’s birth certificate has been an embarrassing sideshow. All along, it has been clear he was born in Hawaii (not one but two newspaper announcements at the time attested to that), and all along, it hasn’t mattered anyway, because as the son of an American mother, Obama is a “natural born citizen” regardless.

But as I have long argued, the delay in releasing the birth certificate is indeed a symptom of a more important disease in the Obama administration, namely its terrible lack of transparency. Just eight months into his term, I complained about it:

The candidate whose most identifiable promise was to provide open and transparent government instead is leading an administration rife with secrecy, stonewalling and prevarication.The administration repeatedly has stiff-armed Congress, the media, outside organizations and even a prestigious independent government commission. It has raised “none of your business” from an adolescent rejoinder to a public policy – to keep the public in the dark.

Two months before I wrote that, Andrew McCarthy at National Review explained that the question isn’t where Obama was born, but how he lived his life as an adult:

The fact is that Obama’s account of his background is increasingly revealed as a fabrication, not his life as lived; his utterances reflect the expediencies of the moment, not the truth. What is supposed to save the country from fraudulence of this sort is the media. Here, though, the establishment press is deep in Obama’s tank — so much so that they can’t even accurately report his flub of a ceremonial opening pitch lest he come off as something less than Sandy Koufax. Astonishingly, reporters see their job not as reporting Obama news but as debunking Obama news, or flat-out suppressing it. How many Americans know, for example, that as a sitting U.S. senator in 2006, Obama interfered in a Kenyan election, publicly ripping the incumbent government (a U.S. ally) for corruption while he was its guest and barnstorming with his preferred candidate: a Marxist now known to have made a secret agreement with Islamists to convert Kenya to sharia law, and whose supporters, upon losing the election, committed murder and mayhem, displacing thousands of Kenyans and plunging their country into utter chaos?

Chief among the questions is how Obama managed to get from Hawaii to Occidental to Columbia to Harvard, with an odd stop in Chicago in between and again after Harvard. Were strings pulled in his behalf? By whom? That’s why, as I argued yesterday at The American Spectator, the otherwise objectionable Donald Trump is actually right (blind squirrel finds acorn) to pivot and ask about Obama’s college transcripts:

They are questions that ought to be answered. They are not, however, the sorts of questions that should be allowed to run out of control the way the birther questions did. The real reasons to vote against Obama have to do with his extreme leftist ideology, his horrendous record, and his insufferable arrogance that leads him to push the outer bounds (and probably exceed those bounds) of permissible executive authority. That record is enough to discredit him. If the transcripts discredit him further, so much the better. But if they are released and show him to have been a fine student, they should not be allowed to overshadow his other, dangerous deficiencies.

One of those deficiencies — a lesser one, perhaps, but still significant — is his administration’s propensity for stonewalling, which isn’t a private sin but a public one. It undermines our republican (small ‘r’) system. Every respectable study of Obama’s record in this regard has found it lacking. Even liberal sites are complaining. The summation from the Associated Press has the numbers:

Two years into its pledge to improve government transparency, the Obama administration took action on fewer requests for federal records from citizens, journalists, companies and others last year even as significantly more people asked for information.

Amazingly enough, the administration even blocked media requests about its transparency record itself:

The Obama administration censored 194 pages of internal e-mails about its Open Government Directive that the AP requested more than one year ago. The December 2009 directive requires every agency to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public. But the White House Office of Management and Budget blacked-out entire pages of some e-mails between federal employees discussing how to apply the new openness rules, and it blacked-out one e-mail discussing how to respond to AP’s request for information about the transparency directive.

This is an administration that hides one heck of a lot of information. That’s probably because this is a president with a lot to hide.

January 4th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
House GOP Advancing ‘Rule of Law’ Agenda

When it comes to how a bill becomes a law, the route popularized in most textbooks and School House Rocks is of little value.  Instead of clear procedural steps the process is rife with secret votes, waived rules, and last minute amendments that completely change a bill hours before final passage.  The failure of the Pelosi-Reid Congress to abide by any semblance of a consistent process made lawmaking into nothing more than the personal whims of liberal elites.

No longer.  The incoming majority of House Republicans is poised to pass House Resolution 5, a fundamental overhaul of the way the House does business.  Today, the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry Blog teases out the five most important changes.

(1)   Members introducing new legislation must provide a statement of what powers the Constitution grants to Congress to enact the bill.

(2)   Any bill that increases mandatory spending must adhere to a “Cut-As-You-Go” rule requiring the legislation to cut an identical amount of spending elsewhere.

(3)   All bills must be posted online in their entirety three days before the House votes on them.

(4)   The text of any amendment must be publicly available for at least 24 hours before the House votes on it.

(5)   Vote avoidance maneuvers like “Deem-And-Pass” are eliminated.  If members want to raise the debt ceiling – or socialize medicine – they must do so on the record.

Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) is fond of saying, “process is substance,” by which he means that how a bill becomes a law is just as important as what is in the bill.  Passing House Resolution 5 will go a long way towards restoring the public’s confidence in Congress’s ability to play by a set of fair, easily understood rules.  If House Republicans go further and insist on restoring the lost constitutional limits on federal power, they will enjoy a long ride in leadership.

December 21st, 2010 at 11:12 am
WikiLeaks Boss Upset When Tables Turned

Thank goodness WikiLeaks founder and diplomatic saboteur Julian Assange is getting a taste of his own medicine.  In his first interview since being “confined” to a nine-bedroom English mansion while he awaits an extradition hearing to Sweden on sex assault charges, the man who wants more transparency from governments and businesses is less inclined to turn the spotlight on himself.

Speaking from the English mansion where he is confined on bail, the 39-year-old Australian said that the decision to publish incriminating police files about him was “disgusting”. The Guardian had previously used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.

Mr Assange is understood to be particularly angry with a senior reporter at the paper and former friend for “selectively publishing” incriminating sections of the police report, although The Guardian made clear that the WikiLeaks founder was given several days to respond.

Mr Assange claimed the newspaper received leaked documents from Swedish authorities or “other intelligence agencies” intent on jeopardising his defence.

“The leak was clearly designed to undermine my bail application,” he said. “Someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison.”

How amusing it is to see Assange angered by others’ “selectively publishing” a “leak…clearly designed to undermine (his) bail application…”  I’ll bet there are hundreds of career diplomats similarly peeved at the well-connected Casanova’s preoccupation with his comparatively minor legal problems while they labor to repair his inestimable damage to world order.

May 13th, 2010 at 4:33 pm
Kagan “Interview” Doesn’t Count as Transparency, Mr. President

Demonstrating again that transparent government was a hollow campaign promise, the White House has released a video of its own “interview” with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.  The Solicitor General sat down with White House bloggers to share some life background and general thoughts on the law peppered with White House talking points, including my favorite, that she understands how law affects “ordinary people.”

The lack of media access to this critical nominee should not come as a surprise, as Obama himself has not conducted a live solo press conference since last July.  The kicker is the way the administration seeks to manipulate media through such transparent antics as the Kagan interview.  This lack of accountability to the public has even got the folks at CBS riled up:

“This White House has taken its use of the web to a new level with this move,” said CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer. “The ultimate unfiltered message. Kagan ‘in her own words’ without anyone else’s words.”


Doing so allows the administration to better control its message – and, in this case, avoid any uncomfortable questions for their Supreme Court nominee.

CBS should be careful.  Obama doesn’t take kindly to dissenters.

April 14th, 2010 at 9:38 am
Everybody Look What’s Going Down

With apologies to the band Buffalo Springfield, there’s something happening at the Obama White House, and it is exactly clear: the freedom of the professional press is being severely curtailed in its coverage of the president.  No less a liberal mandarin than the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank compares this week’s Obama-hosted Nuclear Summit to a May Day parade in Washington, D.C.

World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.

They entered a capital that had become a military encampment, with camo-wearing military police in Humvees and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade on New York Avenue, where a bicyclist was killed Monday by a National Guard truck.

In the middle of it all was Obama — occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world” — putting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.

Milbank goes on to detail reactions by members of the foreign press to the restricted access.  The most disturbing come from reporters based in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and Jordan who chide American notions of a free press as overblown.

Though by itself, the restricted access might not cause concern, as Milbank points out, it’s just the most recent example in a well developed pattern of open secrecy cultivated by the Obama White House.  How long will it take before other members of the mainstream media take Milbank’s position?