Posted by simplyjuliana
on Nov 4th, 2013 in News
| 4 comments
President Obama in a 2012 photo in the Oval Office.
President Barack Obama is criticized every day for the problems and difficulties associated with the Affordable Care Act. But in the long term, it’s likely history will scrutinize the CIA’s use of drone strikes during his administration with a far more critical eye.
A quote from a new book on the 2012 presidential campaign, “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” will surely stoke that interest. As first reported in a book review by the Washington Post’s Peter Hamby, Obama told aides in connection with the CIA’s drone program that he is “really good at killing people.”
It’s the kind of quote likely to make Obama supporters cringe or scramble for justifying explanations, perhaps by rationalizing the quote as either false or out of context, or critiquing the information-gathering methods of authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. The writers spent two years interviewing dozens of people connected with both the Obama and Romney campaigns.
Whether uttered in jest or in resignation, the Obama quote will only add to the concerns of those wondering whether the president has embraced the Godlike, life-and-death power of the Oval Office. After campaigning against the intense interrogation procedures pursued under President George W. Bush, Obama has vastly expanded the drone program. Despite its intense unpopularity overseas, in part because of civilian casualties and in part because of its unclear, secretive mandates, the Pakistan drone program continues as it has since 2004.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the CIA has conducted 378 strikes in the program’s 10-year history. Of those, 326 are classified as “Obama strikes.” The total number of people killed by drones is estimated at 2,528 to 3,648. Civilian casualties are estimated at 416 to 948, with 168 to 200 of those being children. As many as another 1,545 are estimated to have been injured in those strikes.
“We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats — to stop plots, prevent future attacks and, again, save American lives,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in February. “These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise.” And, thanks to this book, the motivations of the man who orders them will remain under scrutiny.
“Double Down” is a sequel of sorts to “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime,” a best-selling book made into an HBO movie. “Double Down” tracks the 2012 campaign through the voices of campaign strategists and other insiders for both President Obama and Mitt Romney, as well as the half-dozen other ancillary campaigns on the Republican side.
What emerges is a look at two men and two campaigns with singular visions and yet singular weaknesses. Here, via the Post’s Hamby, is a summary of “Double Down”’s through-line:
The book’s loose argument is that both Obama and Romney placed their bets about the race early on and “doubled down” throughout the contest. It’s an apt take on Obama World. The “Obamans,” as the authors call them, set out to annihilate Romney almost two years before the election and executed their plan with brutal efficiency. There were hiccups along the way, specifically Obama’s dreary debate-prep sessions and his cringe-worthy performance in Denver, but his deputies in Chicago rarely deviated from their search-and-destroy mission. Romney’s campaign, though, with its bad habit of reacting to news cycles with snap decisions, always felt more ad hoc, with tactics trumping strategy.
Per Hamby, Obama comes off as “brilliant but peevish, allergic to the nitty-gritty of politics,” while Romney “is a decent man but hopelessly ham-fisted on the stump and oblivious to why voters can’t seem to appreciate his private-equity résumé.”
The drone quote will garner notice, but the book actually saves much of its harshest criticism for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is apparently already making plans for a 2016 presidential bid. The book makes use of the research performed by the Romney campaign on Christie; the vetting is termed “disturbing,” with “garish controversies.” A Justice Department investigation into Christie’s spending, a defamation lawsuit, questions about lobbying and contract awards, Christie’s physical health – these were all fair game for Romney’s investigators and in turn for the authors of “Double Down.” Christie’s people could be busy for months trying to mitigate the damage this book will do to his reputation.
The Obama administration has brushed off the book’s claims about the back-room dealings of the 2012 campaign, critiquing the sources as much as the content. “The president is always frustrated about leaks,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I haven’t talked to him about this book. I haven’t read it. He hasn’t read it. But he hates leaks.”
But that’s inside-the-Beltway politicking, the kind of give-and-take where reputations, not lives, are the casualties. The debate over drone use has far more dramatic reach and effect. Lost in the day-to-day squabbling over politics is the fact that, for instance, the Justice Department has a disturbingly vague protocol for sending drones to kill U.S. citizens. “Double Down” may open the door to issues far more significant than who likes whom in Washington, issues that speak to the very heart of what it means to stand for American principles. This is a story that’s not going away anytime soon.
Contact Jay Busbee at email@example.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.
Posted by simplyjuliana
on Oct 28th, 2013 in News
| 5 comments
SOURCE: yahoo.com/By Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo
Before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, President Obama promised Americans they could keep their healthcare plan if they liked it. But already hundreds of thousands of citizens are receiving notification that their plans are being cancelled because they don’t comply with the new law, and, according to NBC News, the Obama administration has known for at least three years the cancellations were coming.
While campaigning for health care reform in 2009, Obama went out of his way to make one thing perfectly clear: if you like your current health care plan, you will be able to keep it.
On June 15, 2009, Obama said this: “We will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”
In 2012, he echoed that sentiment, saying, ““If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
However, many are finding that not to be the case. More than 300,000 cancellation notices have been sent out in Florida, according to Kaiser Health News, and another 180,000 in California. In New Jersey, the number of cancellations tops 800,000, the Star-Ledger reports.
According to NBC News, approximately 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million Americans who buy their health insurance individually should expect to receive a cancellation letter over the next year “because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law.”
This could result in millions of Americans being forced to purchase different policies, potentially at higher premiums.
So how did the Obama administration know the cancellations would be coming?
The Affordable Care Act states that people who had health insurance prior to March 23, 2010 – the day President Obama signed the bill into law – will be able to keep those policies even if they don’t meet the requirements of the new law. However, the Department of Health and Human Services tightened that provision, so that “if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered,” NBC News reports.
Because the market for individual insurance experiences significant turnover, the insinuation is the Obama administration had to have known many policies “grandfathered” in would not qualify for the ACA. NBC News claims that the administration knew in 2010 that “more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”
“This says that when they made the promise [that individuals could keep their plans], they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates told NBC News.
Monday, former Obama adviser David Axelrod said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that “most people are going to keep their own plan.” When asked about Axelrod’s admission of “most” as opposed to all, White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledge that some individual’s plans will be cancelled, but countered that the plans they switch to will be better and affordable.
“What the president said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage,” Carney said. “… So it’s true that there are existing health-care plans on the individual market that don’t meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act.”
Actually, what the President said back in 2009 was “[the Affordable Care Act] is for people who aren’t happy with their current plan. If you like what you’re getting, keep it. Nobody is forcing you to shift.”
Only now, some who like their plans are being forced, including Laszewski. According to NBC News, he has a so-called “Cadillac plan” – “the best health insurance policy you can buy,” he said – but recently received notice in the mail that it was being cancelled.
Posted by simplyjuliana
on Oct 21st, 2013 in News
| 2 comments
SOURCE: yahoo news
Getty Images/John Moore
“If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” This was one of President Obama’s key talking points when selling the Affordable Care Act, and it was never true — as many of the 14 million Americans currently covered by individually-purchased health plans are now learning.
As Kaiser Health News reports, individual market insurers are sending out rafts of cancellation notices, telling subscribers they have to change to new plans starting in 2014. Here’s why:
1. Some old plans don’t meet new requirements under the ACA. Starting in 2014, most health plans will have to cover 10 “essential health benefits,” from hospitalization to maternity care to dental care for children. Most will also have to limit out-of-pocket expenses to no more than $6,350 for an individual plan or $12,700 for a family plan. And they’ll have to meet a minimum “actuarial value,” generally meaning that across a standardized population, the insurer will have to expect to pay at least 60% of health care costs incurred by plan participants.
If your existing plan doesn’t meet these requirements, it’s likely that it’s getting canceled. And since the new plan you’re getting will offer more comprehensive coverage, it’s likely to be more expensive, especially if you’re young and healthy and don’t qualify for a premium subsidy.
2. Some existing plans have especially sick participant pools, so insurers want to end them. Kaiser notes that some insurers appear to be targeting existing “guaranteed issue” policies for cancellation. These are policies that were designed to serve participants with pre-existing conditions, who are likely to have had especially high health care costs. Assuming the exchange websites are working properly, these individuals are probably going to be better off exchange plans anyway.
What’s arguably more surprising is that so many existing plans in the individual market are not getting canceled. Starting in 2014, there will be two individual health insurance markets: One that operates through the Obamacare exchanges, and one operating outside of them. Most regulations on insurance (for example, insurers have to offer coverage at fixed prices regardless of pre-existing conditions) will apply to individual plans both on and off the exchanges. But the subsidies that the ACA provides to help individuals buy coverage will only be available for exchange plans.
If subsidies are only available inside the exchange, and the regulations are mostly the same, why would any insurers offer plans outside the exchange, and why would anybody buy outside? There are a few reasons:
1. Not everyone can get a subsidy anyway. You can only get a government subsidy to help with your insurance premium if you make less than 400% of the federal poverty line, which is $45,960 for a single adult in 2013. If you don’t qualify for a subsidy, you may be indifferent about whether your plan is sold on the exchange or not. Larry Levitt, an insurance expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, notes that some people who are already insured in the individual market might prefer to continue working with the same insurer or insurance agent, and therefore may want to skip the exchange.
2. Grandfathered plans can only be sold outside the exchanges. Plans that existed before March 2010 are exempt from some of the requirements under the ACA. For example, they do not have to offer free preventive care and they can impose annual limits on benefits. For these reasons, grandfathered plans may be cheaper than new plans, and participants currently on them may want to stay on them. They’ll have to buy outside the exchanges to do so.
3. You don’t need to deal with an exchange website to buy non-exchange plans. In the long run, once the exchange websites are working well, this shouldn’t be a big deal. But for now, one big point in favor of the non-exchange plans is that you don’t have to deal with Healthcare.gov to buy them.
Posted by simplyjuliana
on Oct 19th, 2013 in News
| 4 comments
English: President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House announcing a deal in the ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, July 31, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The government shutdown may have ended Wednesday, but the bipartisan deal that put workers back on the job also suspended the nation’s debt ceiling, leaving the national debt soaring at an astronomical rate that is expected to keep growing.
The nation’s debt climbed by a record $328 billion on Thursday alone, reports The Washington Times, the first day the federal government could borrow money under the agreement. The debt is now at a record $17.075 trillion and climbing, according to the Treasury Department.
The $323 billion increase is nearly $100 billion over a previous record of $238 billion that was set two years ago, and came as the government replenished its “extraordinary measures” funding from the money it’s been borrowing since may while trying to avoid the nation’s debt ceiling.
Federal law allows the government to replenish funds when there is new debt space, and the Treasury Department back in May started borrowing $400 billion from other funds while it awaited a final deal from Congress and President Barack Obama.
The nation’s debt ceiling caps how much the government can owe, but the new deal basically removes that deal, setting a deadline instead of a dollar amount, so debt can go up by as much as is spent between now and Feb. 17.
Democrats insisted the debt increase be “clean,” and allows Obama to pay for bills he and Congress have already amassed without encouraging new spending. But Republicans wanted strings attached, but instead settled on a bill that reopened the government and included earmark projects.
The debt cap increase is the sixth one since Obama took office in 2009, reports Fox News, when the nation’s debt was at $10.6 trillion, so the $17.05 trillion mark is an increase of nearly 60 percent.
The debt cap went up three times while Democrats controlled Congress and another three times when Republicans took over in the House.
The mounting debt is alarming experts, who say the nation is entering into dangerous territory.
“Both houses should act quickly to stop the madness,” said Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Budget and the Campaign to Fix the Debt, told Fox. She’s happy the shutdown is over, but calls the last-minute deal “incredibly disheartening,” and says the nation’s debt is a “fire” that could “get out of control at any moment.”
On Thursday, though, Obama said the deficit is “getting smaller, not bigger,” a technically true statement, but Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said the nation still has an “unsustainable problem in place.”
The high numbers are not easy to understand, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is warning that the future could be dire if the climbing debt rate isn’t snowed.
In its analysis, the CBO explained that the government is expanding at historic rates, adn between 2009 and 2012, deficits were larger in relation to the size of the economy than at any time since 1946.
And while experts project the deficit to fall in upcoming years, they say it will climb again because of interest rates and entitlement programs.
As a result, the CBO reports, interest on the debt will rise to five percent of the
The CBO estimates that by 2038, interest on the debt will rise to 5 percent of the gross domestic product, as compared to the historical average of two percent, leaving less money available for spending.
But so-called entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are expected to soar, reports the CBO, doubling by 2038 to equal 14 percent of the GDP and causing spending on everything else to drop.
Rubio complained Obama has resisted making major changes to the programs because liberals don’t want changes to them.
And while the debt ceiling is suspended for now, eventually the nation will need to pay its bills, meaning 2014 could look more bleak, reports Reuters. When the new debt cap resets in February to whatever level the debt has reached by then, the new debt ceiling date comes while tax refund checks are being mailed out, and financial experts expect a new cap of at least $17.3 trillion.
Goldman Sachs economist Alec Phillips said in a report that he thinks the Treasury will run up on the cap by mid-March, but “if revenues are higher than expected or tax refunds are lower than expected, the date could be pushed (out)slightly further.”
If the borrowing capacity can be stretched until the end of March, a $30 billion dividend payment from Freddie Mac could allow a bit more breathing space, said Phillips.
National Debt Set to Double Before Obama Leaves Office
Myth of the US National Debt
National Debt Up More Than $6 Trillion Under Obama
SOURCE: Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com
Posted by simplyjuliana
on Oct 18th, 2013 in News
| 3 comments
SOURCE: heritagefoundation/morning bell
Now that the government is whirring again, President Obama has identified three priorities for the country. Here’s a quick look at how they stack up against your priorities.
“There is a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that has been lost over the last few weeks,” Obama said. “And we can begin to do that by addressing the real issues that they care about.”
Well, Americans still say the economy is their no. 1 concern—by a large margin.
How would Obama’s new priorities affect the economy?
The kind of immigration changes the President and his allies are pushing for would be a huge drain on hard-working taxpayers. As Heritage Vice President Derrick Morgan says, “The American taxpayer can’t afford amnesty’s multi-trillion-dollar price tag.” Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would add millions of people to the entitlement programs that are already unsustainable for the people they’re supposed to serve. (And it wouldn’t deter more illegal immigration, either.)
The President says he wants “a sensible budget that is responsible, that is fair.” But how can a budget be sensible and responsible if it only drives the spending and debt crisis? As Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Fellow Romina Boccia wrote in response to the latest budget deal:
To truly avoid a spending and debt crisis, today and in the future, Congress should cut spending and enact entitlement reforms that put the budget on a path to balance.
Again, it’s the entitlement programs that are driving our budget woes—and Obamacare is only adding new ones. Entitlement reform would be a far better priority.
3. Farm bill
The new House and Senate farm bills are loaded with the usual subsidies, and they aren’t for the hard-working family farmers you would think of. The bills take from taxpayers to give to special interests. They intentionally restrict food supplies to drive up food prices. And what is a Christmas tree tax doing in there? This isn’t helping middle-class American families get jobs.
Heritage expert Daren Bakst says:
President Obama is absolutely right…when he also said policymakers should focus on the American people when it comes to the farm bill. However, the interests of the American people are not the focus.
Americans care about the economy. They care about finding work and making ends meet. None of the President’s policies helps them. This is not how Washington can earn back trust.
Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.