Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

President Obama intervenes to exempt Congress from Obamacare

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

To adapt H.L. Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the cynicism and self-dealing of the American political class. Witness their ad-libbed decision, at the 11th hour and on the basis of no legal authority, to create a special exemption for themselves from the ObamaCare health coverage that everybody else is mandated to buy.

[...][Obamacare] means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice “Medicaid Plus” of the exchanges. The Members—annual salary: $174,000—and their better paid aides also wouldn’t qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs.

The result was a full wig out on Capitol Hill, with Members of both parties fretting about “brain drain” as staff face higher health-care costs. Democrats in particular begged the White House for help, claiming the Reid language was merely an unintentional mistake. President Obama told Democrats in a closed-door meeting last week that he would personally moonlight as HR manager and resolve the issue.

And now the White House is suspending the law to create a double standard. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that runs federal benefits will release regulatory details this week, but leaks to the press suggest that Congress will receive extra payments based on the FEHBP defined-contribution formula, which covers about 75% of the cost of the average insurance plan. For 2013, that’s about $4,900 for individuals and $10,000 for families.

[...]This latest White House night at the improv is also illegal. OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack FEHBP contracts, nor does the Affordable Care Act permit either exchange contributions or a unilateral bump in congressional pay in return for less overall compensation. Those things require appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the President.

But the White House rejected a legislative fix because Republicans might insist on other changes, and Mr. Obama feared that Democrats would go along because they’re looking out for number one. So the White House is once again rewriting the law unilaterally, much as it did by suspending ObamaCare’s employer mandate for a year. For this White House, the law it wrote is a mere suggestion.

The lesson for Americans is that Democrats who passed ObamaCare didn’t even understand what they were doing to themselves, much less to everyone else. But you can bet Democrats will never extend to ordinary Americans the same fixes that they are now claiming for themselves. The real class divide in President Obama’s America is between the political class and everyone else.

Just keep in mind that there is only one party fighting to repeal this monstrosity, and it’s the Republican Party. The Democrat Party wrote this bill, they supported this bill, and their supporters helped push it through. Now they are trying to get THEMSELVES out of it. But they still want it to apply to YOU. The only people trying to get YOU out of it is the Republican Party.

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IRS employee union opposes making Obamacare apply to themselves

CNS News reports.

Excerpt:

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents Internal Revenue Service employees, is urging its members to oppose legislation that would force federal employees off their government healthcare plans and onto the state and national healthcare exchanges established under Obamacare.

Members of Congress and their staffers are already required to participate in the exchanges, which will go into effect next October 1st under the Affordable Care Act.

However, a bill (HR 1780) introduced in April by Rep. David Camp (R–Mich.) would extend that requirement to all federal employees, an idea that does not sit well with the union.

So NTEU is strongly urging its members –  including the Internal Revenue Service agents tasked with implementing Obamacare – to oppose Camp’s legislation, which would compel them to personally participate in the same healthcare program they will be enforcing.

On the NTEU website, union members are urged to email their congressman and senators, asking them to oppose H.R.1780. NTEU provides a sample letter that members can simply sign and send, or rewrite it as they wish:

“I am a federal employee and one of your constituents. I am very concerned about legislation that has been introduced by Congressman Dave Camp to push federal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and into the insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

[...]Last election cycle, the NTEU donated $547,812 to pro-Obamacare Democrat candidates, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi ($10,000), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) ($11,000), and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) ($12,500). And that figure doesn’t include the $62,500 the NTEU donated to the Democrat National Committee, or the $125,000 it gave to various left-leaning super PACs.

However, the union only donated $24,000 total to Republican candidates during the same time period.

Wow. And recently we saw that three of the biggest automobile manufacturer unions were also pushing back against Obamacare. Apparently, no one who actually worked to get Obamacare passed wants it for themselves. They just want it for other people.

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GAO report finds that Obama’s massive spending is not sustainable

The Government Accountability Office is a federal government agency that audits the finances of the federal government. They report to Obama and they are part of his administration. So what do they think about his plans to fix the economy?

Take a look at this article from Breitbart.

Excerpt:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO)—the personal auditor of President Obama and the federal government—released its assessment of the federal government on January 17, 2013. The report’s findings illuminate just how dire America’s spending problem is and, therefore, how little the current cuts debated by Congress do to fix it.

The findings of the paper include these excerpts (emphasis added):

  • “The projections in this Report indicate that current policy is not sustainable… Preventing the debt-to-GDP ratio from rising over the next 75 years is estimated to require some combination of spending reductions and revenue increases that amount to 2.7 percent of GDP over the period.”
  • “It is estimated that running primary surpluses that average 1.0 percent of GDP over the next 75 years would result in the 2087 debt-to-GDP ratio equaling its level in fiscal year 2012, which compares with primary deficits that average 1.7 percent of GDP under current policies.”
  • “It is noteworthy that preventing the debt-to-GDP ratio from rising over the next 75 years requires that primary surpluses be substantially positive on average. This is true because projected GDP growth is on average smaller than the projected government borrowing rate over the next 75 years.”
  • “If the primary surplus was precisely zero in every year, then debt would grow at the rate of interest in every year, which would be faster than GDP growth.”
  • “The differences between the primary surplus boost starting in 2023 and 2033 (3.2 and 4.1 percent of GDP, respectively) and the primary surplus boost starting in 2012 (2.7 percent of GDP) is a measure of the additional burden policy delay would impose on future generations. Future generations are harmed by a policy delay of this sort, because the higher the primary surplus is during their lifetimes the greater the difference is between the taxes they pay and the programmatic spending from which they benefit.”

[...]This is the reality: when President Obama’s personal auditor says the federal government has a spending problem, it indeed has a spending problem—and one that is growing rapidly.

Something to think about during the debate on sequestration. We can’t stay on the course that we’re on. Things will not be OK.

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Fraud and waste in government’s program to distribute “free” cell phones

From CBS Atlanta. (H/T Wes)

Excerpt:

Georgians pay the federal government more than $262 million a year in mandatory universal service charges. That’s the hidden fee you pay on your cell phone bill every single month.

That fund is supposed to help the government pay for free phones for the poor.

But CBS Atlanta News found multiple phones being given away to people who already had a free phone, and to people who don’t need them or even want them. And the more phones these companies give away, the more money you pay.

[...]“Get your free government cell phones today, sign up today, get your free phone today,” a Life Wireless contractor yelled out the door of his car.

The pitch the salesman is making is for people to get something for nothing – a free cell phone. In some cases, they receive the phones whether they need them or not.

“I signed up for two already, I got like two of them,” one woman said.

The woman was in line to get her third free phone. In some cases, the people lining up for free phones admitted they already had three or four government-supported phones.

[...]But the bigger problem is that the FCC has no database where companies can check if a person has received one, two, three or even four cell phones from various companies. All someone has to do is show they are on government assistance, show their I.D. and they can get a free phone.

This is nothing but wealth distribution – an effort to equalize life outcomes for all regardless of prudence, thrift and hard work.

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Nearly half of U.S. households are receiving some government benefits

Percentage of households receiving some government benefits

Percentage of households receiving some government benefits

(Click for larger image)

This is the top story on the Wall Street Journal at the time I am writing this (Thursday at midnight).

Excerpt:

Families were more dependent on government programs than ever last year.

Nearly half, 48.5%, of the population lived in a household that received some type of government benefit in the first quarter of 2010, according to Census data. Those numbers have risen since the middle of the recession when 44.4% lived households receiving benefits in the third quarter of 2008.

The share of people relying on government benefits has reached a historic high, in large part from the deep recession and meager recovery, but also because of the expansion of government programs over the years. (See a timeline on the history of government benefits programs here.)

Means-tested programs, designed to help the needy, accounted for the largest share of recipients last year. Some 34.2% of Americans lived in a household that received benefits such as food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid (the federal-state health care program for the poor).

Another 14.5% lived in homes where someone was on Medicare (the health care program for the elderly). Nearly 16% lived in households receiving Social Security.

High unemployment and increased reliance on government programs has also shrunk the nation’s share of taxpayers. Some 46.4% of households will pay no federal income tax this year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That’s up from 39.9% in 2007, the year the recession began.

A plan like Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would make sure that everybody is paying their fair share of taxes, and maybe then people who collect these benefits without paying their fair share would have a reason to want to cut government spending.

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