The week-long outcry over secretly-taped videos revealing Planned Parenthood's practice of selling body parts of aborted fetuses won't be investigated by the federal agency that provided $67.2 million between 2010 and 2012 -- or even watched by the department's boss.HHS only cares about whether or not a law is broken? If an F-35 DOD ordered didn't work, should DOD only be concerned about whether or not its' contractor broke any laws during the production of the faulty aircraft?
The House Education and the Workforce Committee Tuesday released videos of testimony from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell explaining why she won't probe the Planned Parenthood affair. It included this back and forth:Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.): Have you seen those videos?
Burwell: I have not seen the videos. I have read the articles about them.
Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA): I would like some commitment from you here today on when your department will conduct an investigation on this very, very serious matter…Can you tell me when we're going to do something about that?
Sec. Burwell: This is an important issue and one that there is passionate and emotion and belief on many sides of the issue and want to respect that … With regard to investigating or looking into those issues, as I said, because it is a statutory legal issue, the Department of Justice and the Attorney General has said she has taken those issues under review and will determine what the appropriate next step is.
Chairman John Kline (R-MN): The activities which have been so abhorrent to so many of us that have been revealed in these videos that are the actions of Planned Parenthood, you believe that is solely a matter for the Department of Justice. Is that correct?
Sec. Burwell: With regard to the determination of if a law has been broken, in those cases, that is the Department of Justice. If there are any concerns at all with our grantees, we would want to refer that to our IG and/or the Department of Justice depending on those circumstances.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
From Harford Campaign for Liberty:
July 28, 2015
(7pm – 9pm)
Newport Terrace (Formerly the KoC)
23 Newport Drive
Forest Hill, MD 21050
Be on hand as your Harford Campaign for Liberty friends bring you up to date on issues that matter the most.
This month’s meeting will feature Sheriff Jeff Gahler. Join us as we learn why Bane’s helicopters bit the dust, how the Sheriff hopes to partner with ICE on illegal immigration, and what legislation is in the works toward Second Amendment preservation.
Bring your questions! This is a great opportunity to provide feedback to an important elected official.
Christina Trotta will update us on the Center for the Arts – what exactly did the Harford County Council pass in May concerning the Center?
Is the proposed Center economically feasible? And how much has their staff raised toward the Mega-Plex?
How can you get your friends and neighbors informed and involved in the discussion?
Plus, an announcement about our new venue coming in August, a special thank you to our gracious host these last five years, and your comments on open mic.
Join us! Bring a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, or a family member. No one should be in the dark when it comes to matters that affect our lives, our liberty, and our property.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Dissatisfaction and protest are roiling the politics of summer 2015. They are evident in the response to the angry rhetoric from Donald Trump, in the crowds that come to hear Bernie Sanders bash Wall Street and in the rallies demanding racial justice. For presidential candidates, there is no safe harbor. Ignore the mood at your peril; engage it at your peril.
The discontent is real, whether economic, racial or cultural. It knows no particular ideological boundaries. It currently disrupts both the Republican and Democratic parties. It reflects grievances that long have been bubbling. It reflects, too, the impatience with many political leaders — what they say and how they say it.
The economic collapse of 2008 continues to ripple through the lives of many families, despite the drop in unemployment. Steady but slow growth has not been balm enough to give these families, many of whom see a system rife with inequity, much optimism about the future. Instead, they see the American Dream as part of the nation’s past.
The uproar over illegal immigration underscores the anger over what many still see as broken borders, an issue heightened by the recent killing in San Francisco of a young woman by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record who had been deported but returned to the country. But immigration also is tied to the broader cultural reaction to demographic changes that continue to remake the face of the country and generate tensions that are at the heart of political differences.
Racial issues remain front and center, whether the killings in a black church in Charleston by a young man who wanted to start a race war or repeated episodes that have raised hard questions of how police and law enforcement officials treat African Americans. All this is a reminder that, almost seven years after the election of the nation’s first black president and all of the progress that made that possible, work remains to be done.
It is tempting to try to dismiss Trump for what he is — a reality TV showman who talks as much about himself as anything else. The support he is receiving in national polls, however, suggests more than just a response to a celebrity with a loud voice. He has tapped into something.
Trump is not particularly conservative — or, more accurately, he seems to have no fixed ideology. He amplifies dissatisfaction without proposing real solutions to the country’s problems, other than building a big wall. Yet he speaks about things in a language so blunt and uncharacteristic of politicians that it wins visceral approval from disaffected Americans.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says Trump brings out the “crazies” in the Republican Party on the issue of immigration. In fact, Trump’s candidacy highlights the reality that there is an unresolved debate within the GOP about what to do about it. This is an argument of long standing. Each time McCain and other Republicans have stepped up to solve it with a comprehensive solution, they have been rebuffed by the party’s conservative base. Trump has scratched at the wound again this summer.
Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic nomination, seems to be an extension of the Occupy Wall Street movement that began four years ago. That movement struggled to find political traction the way the tea party movement had two years earlier. But it nonetheless had an indelible impact on the political dialogue by framing the economic debate as the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent.
Obama carefully subsumed the unrest represented by the Occupy Wall Street movement into his middle-class message in 2012. In Mitt Romney, he found the perfect foil, an opponent he portrayed as an out-of-touch plutocrat. That was enough to win reelection.
Yet four years later, the Democrats find themselves debating not just Republicans about the economy but one another, as well. They debate how far left they should move to deal with the issues of income and wealth inequality and the power of what Sanders calls “the billionaire class.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton is part of the way there in responding to the economic unrest, at least rhetorically. Sanders says that she and he continue to have major disagreements on the particulars of what to do. The outpouring of support he has seen at events around the country and the recent rise in his poll numbers in New Hampshire and Iowa will keep the pressure on Clinton to keep responding. She will try to calibrate the extent of her move to the left.
The signs of discontent have flummoxed many of the presidential candidates. Each party wants this election to be about the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the other. Yet the intraparty strife cannot easily be ignored.
Republican candidates were slow to challenge Trump’s language on immigration — both those who strongly disagree with his positions and those who generally agree. Engaging Trump carries risks. He swings back hard, sometimes wildly but sometimes with the nimbleness and precision of a practiced politician.
Many Republicans want Trump to go away. But they are wary about trying to hasten his fall because they fear they will pay too high a price among those for whom he has provided a voice.
Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley went to the Netroots Nation convention a week ago, no doubt looking to find a sympathetic audience for their populist economic message. It was an event, after all, that Clinton did not attend, for the obvious reason that she likely would not have been welcomed.
Instead, though, Sanders and O’Malley were caught unprepared for the interruptions from the Black Lives Matter movement, and neither looked particularly adept or comfortable as they responded. Sanders seemed to throw up his hands in frustration over the interruption. Then he invoked his civil rights work as evidence that he stood with African Americans. O’Malley said that “all lives matter” and later apologized. Clinton was the lucky one for not having attended, but she will not escape the issue, either.
[Why Democrats are struggling to grasp Black Lives Matter]
Few Republicans expect Trump to become their party’s nominee. They worry that his candidacy alone, if left to run for months, could condemn them to another defeat in November 2016, even if he eventually disappears. Their other concern is that Trump might eventually run as an independent, in which case he could drain more than enough votes from their nominee to cost them the general election.
Not many Democrats yet think Sanders has the staying power to defeat Clinton, even if he can give her a good scare. Strange things happen in nomination contests. But Clinton’s advisers vow they will not be caught by surprise by an insurgency from the left.
Even if both Trump and Sanders end up merely as interesting characters rather than long-distance runners, the unrest that has contributed to the attention they are now receiving will remain. Distrust of the political class will infect the campaign, adding to the burdens the major party nominees will carry into the general election and beyond. It is embedded in the politics of now.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Martin O'Malley continued his fight with Republicans on Wednesday over a comment he made suggesting climate change contributed to the rise of Islamic fighters in Syria and Iraq as his campaign sought to raise money off the exchange.Scientia potentia est! Now I wonder if the Sahara Desert was responsible for 9/11... *rolls eyes*
"We need to get some money in the door to help fight these attacks, and to elect a candidate who won't repeat the mistakes of the past," the campaign blasted in an email to supporters. "Take a second today and add your support to this campaign -- as someone who believes in science," it wrote.
The email followed criticism O'Malley received Monday when, in an interview with Bloomberg, he said that "one of the things that preceded the failure of the nation state of Syria and the rise of ISIS was the effect of climate change." The O'Malley campaign has pointed to a New York Times story from earlier this year in which a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that climate change had contributed to a drought and subsequent political destabilization in Syria.
O'Malley's comment received considerable attention from conservative news outlets and promoted Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus to release a statement late Monday that said "it's abundantly clear no one in the Democrat Party has the foreign policy vision to keep America safe."
O'Malley's campaign responded that it would be more than happy to engage with Republicans on the issue.
"They defend the wrong-headed decision to invade Iraq -- a war that cost thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. When faced with cold, hard scientific facts, they bury their heads in the sand and deny the adverse effects of climate change on the planet. Is it any surprise that Donald Trump is leading the pack?" campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said on Monday.
"Martin O'Malley isn't running to repeat the mistakes of the past -- he's offering bold, new and progressive leadership," she said. "And unlike the Republican Party, he is proud to believe in science."
The email sent by the campaign Wednesday -- under the subject line "hilarious" -- included much of the same language in O'Malley's original statement late Monday but also included a link to make a donation.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up. ... For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, “the stormy applause, rising to an ovation,” continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin.- Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, "The Gulag Archipelao"
However, who would dare to be the first to stop? … After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who would quit first! …
[The comrades] couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly -- but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them?
The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! …
Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! … To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved!
That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him. … After he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:
“Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.”
Abby Johnson wasn’t horrified by last week’s undercover video showing a Planned Parenthood doctor describing over lunch and wine how to “crush” a fetus during an abortion to preserve the organs because she’s been there.
In her previous role as clinic director for a Planned Parenthood facility in East Texas, Ms. Johnson said part of her job was to sift through the aborted fetal tissue and organs, pack them in a container with dry ice, check the consent form and “ship them off.”
Like Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood senior director of medical services, Ms. Johnson said she and her colleagues would talk about their work, even indulge in “gallows humor” as they wound down after hours over margaritas and chips.
“I lived that life,” said Ms. Johnson in an interview. “I worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years at an abortion facility, and I ran the facility, and that was very common for us after a long day of work — after a long day of performing abortions, the staff going out to eat, having drinks, talking about the day.”
That’s no longer her life. Ms. Johnson, 35, resigned in 2009 after witnessing an ultrasound-guided abortion. Three years ago, she founded And Then There Were None, dedicated to helping abortion clinic employees leave the business by providing counseling, recruiting services, legal fees, even a month’s worth of replacement salary.
The video prompted her to write an open letter last week to Dr. Nucatola offering assistance and saying, “I get how something grotesque to others can seem ordinary.”
The video, released Tuesday by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, shows Dr. Nucatola discussing how much fetal organs are worth, raising alarm over whether the organization is profiting from the sale of donated fetal tissue in violation of federal law.
House and Senate Republicans have called for a congressional investigation, while governors or attorneys general in at least three states — Georgia, Indiana and Ohio — launched probes into state abortion clinics to determine if fetal organs and tissue are being sold for profit.
Planned Parenthood insists that it only charges for costs arising from the transfer of lawfully donated tissue to medical research centers, which is legal.
Two Democrats — House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers Jr. and Rep. Steve Cohen — released a statement saying that the video “does not demonstrate that Planned Parenthood is ‘selling’ fetal tissue.”
“In fact, many portions of the full video — edited out of the nine-minute version that House Republicans have circulated — directly contradict the allegation that Planned Parenthood has violated federal law,” the joint statement said.
Based on her experience, Ms. Johnson says she saw nothing in the video to indicate that Planned Parenthood is breaking the law. At the same time, she said the video exposes a loophole that gives clinics and processing companies enormous latitude in setting reimbursement charges for fetal hearts, lungs and other organs.
“The law currently states that there can be moneys exchanged as long as they fit under certain categories like preservation, collection, storage, transport, etc.,” Ms. Johnson said. “And the law says there is not a maximum amount that can be charged or a minimum amount but that costs cannot be prohibitive. And that’s very subjective.”
(Corrected paragraph:)Ms. Johnson does not support the use of fetal-tissue for research.
“They [clinics] could say, ‘Well, it’s more difficult for me to harvest a brain than it is for me to harvest a kidney, so that collection fee is going to be $1,000 for a brain, whereas it’s only going to be $400 for a kidney,’” Ms. Johnson said. “And the problem is that it’s so subjective, the amount of money that can be charged. That’s really where we need reform.”
Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Population Health, also raised the issue of high transfer costs, telling Reuters that only a few companies collect the fetal tissue and that “they charge a lot for it.”
“I’m not sure people who donate it realize that,” Mr. Caplan added.
During her tenure at the Planned Parenthood clinic, Ms. Johnson said most women would agree to donate fetal tissue and/or organs “because we made it seem like that, by donating, they were helping others.”
The National Institutes of Health spent $76 million last year funding grants for research using fetal tissue aimed at finding cures for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.
In a statement, the NIH said such biomedical research is conducted “under the general legal authorities to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.”
In her experience, Ms. Johnson said the older the gestational age of the fetus, the easier it is to pick out organs.
“At my affiliate, we did abortions at the time up until 16 weeks. You can begin harvesting fetal tissue at approximately eight weeks,” Ms. Johnson said. “Organs are present earlier, but you can’t really decipher them until about 12 weeks. That’s not all of the organs, but some of the larger ones, you can pick those out and say, ‘OK, this is a liver.’ And that’s usually around 12 weeks.”
Ms. Johnson’s story is well known in pro-life circles. She had received a regional Employee of the Year award from Planned Parenthood shortly before she quit in 2009 after a doctor showed her an abortion procedure on an ultrasound.
“I was shocked at what I saw,” she said. “I had been told by Planned Parenthood that the unborn had no sensory development until 28 weeks gestation, and so to see a 13-week fetus trying to actively move away from the abortion instrument during that procedure was very shocking.
“It really caused me to [ask], ‘What else have I been misled about through this organization?’” said Ms. Johnson, who recounts her experience in “Unplanned” (Tyndale Momentum), which was released in paperback in December.
She has since tangled with pro-choice advocates about the details of her story, such as the date and location of the ultrasound and her motivation for leaving the clinic.
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health services, including abortions, reported revenue of $1.2 billion in 2012-13. Nearly half of that, or $540 billion, came from “government health services grants and reimbursements.”
Dr. Nucatola has come under fire for her comments in the undercover video — even Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards apologized last week for the doctor’s “tone and statements.”
But Ms. Johnson was not among those critics.
“To be perfectly honest, I was disgusted at many of the comments that I saw from people claiming to be pro-life, and the way that they were talking about Dr. Nucatola,” Ms. Johnson said.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
... and now admits to having patronized the African-American community while he was mayor of Baltimore, because, paraphrasing what he said, "had 300 White males been dying violently in the city every year, the Dermocrats in charge of the city and State would have reacted differently" instead of "affirmatively" ignoring the problem as Democrats are REQUIRED to do by the unwritten (and especially "unspoken") Democratic Party Law of patronizingly ignoring all negative statistics that inordinately impact the African-American community and might cast a shadow of negativity upon African-American self-esteem and in some manner "diminish" it (Yay Democrats!).
Friday, July 17, 2015
After a historic Supreme Court session that included rulings on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, Democrats' approval of the high court has surged to 76% and Republicans' approval has plummeted to a record-low 18%. Americans overall are divided, with 49% approving and 46% disapproving.
The new July 8-12 Gallup poll came after the Supreme Court issued rulings in late June that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide and upheld federal subsidies for health insurance purchased through government exchanges. Those decisions were hailed by President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders but criticized by Republican leaders. The shift in opinions of the Supreme Court by political party indicates that many Americans are aware of the decisions, as well as the thrust of those decisions politically, and have adjusted their views accordingly.
Specifically, Republicans' approval of the Supreme Court is down 17 percentage points from September 2014 and down a total of 33 points since last summer. Democrats' approval rose from 47% in September to 76% now -- a 29-point gain. Independents' views were largely unchanged, as 46% approved in September 2014 and 49% currently do.
Supreme Court approval among all Americans is up five points since last fall, from 44% to 49%. The current job approval rating is just below the 52% average, which dates back to 2000.
As a result of the partisan changes in opinions of the Supreme Court, Americans' views of it are polarized along party lines more than ever has been the case in Gallup's 15-year trend. The 18% approval among Republicans is the lowest to date, and the 76% approval among Democrats is the highest, albeit by a single percentage point. In 2009, after Obama took office and nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, 75% of Democrats approved.
The previous high point in political party polarization came in 2012, after the first major Supreme Court ruling on the 2010 healthcare law upheld Congress' ability to fine Americans for not having health insurance. After that decision, 68% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans approved, a 39-point party gap compared with the current 58-point gap.
Partisans' Views of Supreme Court Responsive to Rulings
Supreme Court job approval among all Americans has varied between 42% and 62% in Gallup's 15-year trend. But it has varied even more among Republicans (between 18% and 80%) and Democrats (38% and 76%) during this time. That is because partisans, as is the case in the current poll, have frequently re-evaluated their views of the Supreme Court after it issued rulings that touched on topics that greatly divide Republicans and Democrats.
For example, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the dispute with Al Gore over recounts in Florida presidential voting back in 2000, Republican approval increased 20 points while Democratic approval dropped by 28 points.
As previously noted, the initial Supreme Court ruling on the 2010 healthcare law -- issued in 2012 -- led to a much more positive evaluation of the high court from Democrats along with diminished approval among Republicans.
At this time a year ago, a slim majority of Republicans, 51%, approved of the job the Supreme Court was doing, up from 30% in September 2013. That increase may have reflected support for the court's decision in the "Hobby Lobby" case. The Supreme Court ruled that private companies could, because of religious objections, opt out of the ACA requirement that all health plans must cover contraceptive services.
Over the last 15 years, partisans' views have also responded to presidential appointments to the court. As noted, Democrats' views of the high court became more positive after Obama nominated Sotomayor to the court in 2009. And Republican approval of the Supreme Court improved from 44% in June 2005 to 65% in September 2005 after President Bush nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Republicans' approval rose further to 75% by September 2006 after Justice Samuel Alito, a second Bush appointee, joined the court.
Americans -- specifically Democrats and Republicans -- have often changed their opinions of the Supreme Court based on how it has ruled on high-profile decisions. That indicates that many Americans are aware of what the Supreme Court is doing and the public's evaluations have some substance behind them.
Right now, after two major rulings that were consistent with Democrats' policy preferences, Republicans' and Democrats' views of the Supreme Court are more disparate than at any time in the past 15 years. A key question is how long those highly polarized views might persist. Clearly they could shift if the Supreme Court issues another major ruling on a politically divisive issue that pleases Republicans, which in the next term could be invalidating the use of race as a factor in college admissions. More generally, though, the evidence from the trends suggests the major partisan shifts do not persist long, usually diminishing to some degree in the subsequent poll, and possibly showing more substantial change if there is an intervening major Supreme Court event that favors one group of partisans over another.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-12, 2015, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make insurance, well, more affordable. But now hard results are starting to emerge: premium surges that often average 10% to 20% and spikes that sometimes run as high as 50% or 60% or more from coast to coast. Welcome to the new abnormal of ObamaCare.
This summer insurers must submit rates to state regulators for approval on the ObamaCare exchanges in 2016—and even liberals are shocked at the double-digit requests, or at least the honest liberals are. Under ObamaCare, year-over-year premium increases above 10% must also be justified to the Health and Human Services Department, and its data base lists about 650 such cases so far.
In a study across 45 states, the research outfit Health Pocket reports that mid-level Exclusive Provider Organization plans are 20% more expensive in 2016 on average. HMOs are 19% more expensive, and for all plan types the average is 14%.
President Obama dropped by Nashville last week to claim Tennessee as a state where “the law has worked better than we expected” and “actually ended up costing less than people expected,” so let’s test the reality of those claims. As a baseline, in 2015 premium increases for Tennessee plans ranged from 7.5% to 19.1%.
For 2016 BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee—one of the state’s two major insurers—is requesting a 36.3% increase. One product line from Community Health Alliance Mutual is rising 32.8%, while another from Time Insurance Co. hits 46.9%. Offerings from Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare range from 11% to 18%. If this means ObamaCare is working better than the President expected, then what, exactly, was he expecting?
Underlying health costs continue to rise, but this trend is merely about 3.5% to 7% depending on the state. Health plan profits are capped by ObamaCare price controls, so don’t blame corporate greed either. In a rational market, premiums wouldn’t be soaring in a single year by 49.1%-65% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico) or 40.6%-58.4% (Geisinger Health Plans of Pennsylvania).
The detailed, fact-heavy actuarial filings justifying these increases show that they result from ObamaCare’s political regulations. The law bans insurers from charging people prices linked to their health risks in order to force the young and healthy to cross-subsidize their elders. But if premiums don’t cover medical claims, then premiums must rise to fund these cost transfers.
After the first two years of ObamaCare in 2014 and 2015, insurers have more experience with the demographics and expenses of the new enrollees. They seem to be older and have more chronic conditions like diabetes or congestive heart failure than predicted. There are also fewer than expected.
Among those eligible for the ObamaCare exchanges—meaning they lack coverage through a job, spouse or another government program—only about a third have signed up, according to HHS. The number of truants—despite the individual mandate penalty-tax—increases with income and as ObamaCare’s subsidies phase out.
The subsidies are most generous between 100% and 150% above the poverty line, where an ObamaCare policy is essentially free. Some 76% of eligible individuals at that level are enrolled, report the consultants at Avalere Health. But enrollment drops to 41% between 151% and 200% of poverty, and then to 30% at 201%-250%. At 251%-300%, the share is 20%, and 16% for 301%-400%.
In other words, the more lower- and middle-income people must pay for ObamaCare with their own money, the less likely they are to participate. They are concluding that ObamaCare plans—with their overly rich mandated benefits, narrow physician networks, and hidden income redistribution—do not offer a good value for the price. This is not a formula for healthy insurance markets.
These rate hikes aren’t final, and some may be rejected by state insurance commissioners. In Tennessee, Mr. Obama encouraged regulators to exert such political control. But a business can’t continue to pay more than $1 for every $1 of revenue forever, and ongoing insurance volatility and rising health industry consolidation may ensure that the 2016 premium blast is not a one-time event.
This is a no-excuses moment for liberals. In 2014-15 they tried to deny rate shock by claiming pre-ObamaCare plans couldn’t be compared to compliant ones, but these are the apples of 2015 compared to the apples of 2016.
This is also a political opening for Republican presidential contenders beyond the “repeal ObamaCare” slogan. Even with subsidies, beneficiaries are bound to notice these price increases. Incomes aren’t rising at 10%, much less 40%. Maybe the entitlement isn’t as entrenched as Washington wisdom suggests.
More to the point, U.S. health care is becoming a government-directed network of oligopolies dominated by huge, politically protected incumbents. The insurers would much rather pass on premium increases to consumers who have no other options than challenge the regulations that caused the increases.
An alternative GOP agenda that promises more patient choice and control, and more competition and innovation, might well gain popular support—even among the voters ObamaCare was supposed to help.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley lashed out at Donald Trump on Monday, arguing that the Republican presidential candidate's recent comments about Mexican immigrants were "hate speech" and that the GOP should do more to distance itself from a "hate-spewing character."You can bet that his plan will put 100,000 US citizens out of work. Given his druthers, O'Malley would give all the jobs to illegals. Let poor Whites and African-Americans live in Section 8 Housing and ABT cards.
"The real problem isn't that the Republicans have such a hate-spewing character running for president," O'Malley told the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza in Kansas City, Mo. "The problem is that it’s so hard to tell him apart from the other candidates."
O'Malley, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, was reacting to comments made by Trump during his announcement speech in which he suggested that immigrants entering the country illegally from Mexico were "bringing crime" and were "rapists." Trump has stood by the remarks even as several former business associates have distanced themselves in the wake of their controversy.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you," Trump said during his announcement last month. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
O'Malley's remarks appeared to be targeted as much at the GOP field at large than at Trump himself. Some Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump's remarks -- notably South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham -- but others have offered a more muted response.
"What does it say about the direction of today's Republican Party that Donald Trump calls all New Americans from Mexico rapists and drug dealers and murderers and the best their leadership can summon up is that they're divided,” O’Malley said.
O'Malley has a significant record in Maryland to tout to Hispanic groups such as La Raza. As governor, he helped push legislation through Annapolis in 2011 that provides in-state tuition at state universities for young immigrants brought to the country illegally, and he also ushered in a system that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses.
The former governor also spoke out early in opposition to the way the Obama administration was handling last summer's crisis at the border, in which the number of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. from Central America spiked. A large number of those children wound up in foster care in Maryland, in large part because the state has a higher share of Central American families than many other places.
O'Malley said he plans to outline a more detailed plan for immigration on Tuesday.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
from the Washington Times
Hassan Giordano, a leader of a Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said he was told that hosting Republican outreach in his office is off limits.
Mr. Giordano, who calls himself “not the average conservative” because of his Muslim faith and criminal record, told The Daily Caller of irate phone calls he received for trying to work with Republicans.
“When National found out that I was bringing the governor [Larry Hogan, a Republican], the lieutenant governor [Boyd Rutherford, a Republican], and Dr. [Alveda] King to Baltimore and the Sandtown NAACP office, they literally called and said, ‘There’s no way in the world they can come into our office,’ ” Mr. Giordano told The Daily Caller on Friday. “Then the Mayor [Democrat, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake] — who kind of gave the us the NAACP office in Sandtown — called and said, ‘No, you’re not allowed. And then, the president [of the Baltimore NAACP branch, Tessa Hill-Aston] called me and she said, ‘You know they’re having a fit because you’re bringing in too many Republicans.’ “
Howard Libit, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for the mayor’s office, told The Washington Times that Mrs. Rawlings-Blake “absolutely denies having any conversation as described” by Mr. Giordano.
Tessa Hill-Aston, President of the Baltimore City Branch NAACP, also denied that any such conversation took place. She told The Washington Times that the governor and and lieutenant governor walked with her through the community during a visit and were wholeheartedly welcomed.
Mr. Giorgano told The Daily Caller that the organization bows down to a “liberal machine” at the national level instead of looking for areas of agreement between different ideologies.
“[This] is what I hate about NAACP national: It’s more media-driven than being productive to help people,” Mr. Giordano said, The Daily Caller reported. “I’ve always stayed away from it because of that. And even being a part of it now kind of turns my stomach at times.”
Mr. Giordano has been an elected official on the executive board of the Baltimore NAACP for three years. He told the website he wants to foster an environment where it’s believed that “people are people regardless of party affiliation,” and that everyone can find a way to help protect civil rights.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Charleston massacre led to protests and debates. But after weeks of uproar, the Confederate flag is removed entirely from the South Carolina State House. Now other states are assessing their options, including Maryland.
Rick Ritter with concerns. The Confederate battle flag is down in South Carolina. One delegate has plans to shake things up here in Maryland, going after what some call a controversial state song.
Powerful images–thousands cheer on in South Carolina. The historic Confederate battle flag–now gone. “Best day in South Carolina,” one resident said.
The killing of nine black church members in Charleston last month sparked outrage over the flag, trickling all the way up to Maryland, where Governor Larry Hogan recalled Confederate license plates. “There were license plates being issued by Maryland that had the Confederate flag, and we decided that wasn’t appropriate,” the governor said.
Others–like former NAACP president Dr. Marvin Cheathem–pushing to move Confederate era statues off the streets of Baltimore and into museums. “We should not be celebrating these statues that were in support of slavery,” Dr. Cheatham said.
The controversy extends beyond these statues. Some are now calling for lyrics in the Maryland state song to be changed, saying parts of it are offensive.
Referring to one of the last verses: “She spurns the northern scum.” “When you talk about how you want to degrade other people, the song is full of it,” said Cheatham.
But Governor Hogan wonders when it’s time to draw the line. “Some of this other stuff to me is really going too far,” Gov. Hogan said.
Others feel history is in the making. “Now is the exact time to do it–one, because of what’s happening around the country. Also, what is actually happening in Baltimore,” said Dr. Cheatham. One delegate submitted legislation this week to have Maryland’s song changed. Many are against the idea, saying it’s a waste of time and money.
The mayor has said she will appoint a special commission to look into whether Baltimore’s Confederate monuments should stay or go.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Companies on the list had revenue equivalent to 72% of the U.S. GDP. Is big business more important than ever? Fortune’s Leigh Gallagher, Alan Murray and Brian O’Keefe discuss.