Costs trouble Obamacare enrollees

“More than one-third of Obamacare enrollees aren’t happy with the extra out-of-pocket costs they must still pay for healthcare. Thirty-seven percent of respondents to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday said they’re “somewhat” or “very” dissatisfied with their plan’s deductible — a set sum consumers must pay for some doctors visits or treatments before their insurer steps in. Those on plans that meet the new requirements under the Affordable Care Act were more likely to report problems with costs — like being unable to pay their medical bills or skipping doctors visits because of cost — than those in plans that don’t comply. The largest gap emerged when respondents were asked whether they didn’t fill a prescription because it was too expensive. Eighteen percent of those on compliant plans had not filled a prescription compared with 6 percent of those in non-compliant plans. But the wide-ranging survey of consumer attitudes toward President Obama’s healthcare law also found that people were generally satisfied with other aspects of their insurance. Of those who bought plans on the law’s insurance marketplaces, three in four said they’re satisfied with the selection of primary care doctors and hospitals on their plan’s network. And 74 percent rated their coverage overall as “excellent” or “good.” As other surveys have also found, Kaiser’s respondents were more likely to report being negatively affected by the healthcare law if they vote Republican. But those in high-deductible plans or non-compliant plans were also likely to report negative effects from the law. Those in low-deductible or federally subsidized plans were more likely to report positive effects…”


Price worries persist for Obamacare market plans

*46% say difficult to pay premiums

*74% like coverage

“The price is still wrong for too many health insurance customers. Nearly half of all people with individual health insurance plans this year said it’s “very” or “somewhat” difficult for them to afford their monthly premiums. That finding comes in a new survey of customers by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which questioned people who bought their individual insurance plans either from government-run Obamacare exchanges or outside of those marketplaces. Forty-six percent of those customers expressed having difficulty paying their premiums. The vast majority of Obamacare exchange customers receive a discount on their monthly premiums as a result of subsidies they are issued due to their low or moderate incomes…”


Americans with Obamacare Are Still Afraid of Big Medical Bills

“Americans gave Obamacare plans high marks in a survey out today from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Three-quarters of those enrolled in health plans through the marketplace say they’re satisfied with the choice of primary care doctors, 73% express satisfaction with their doctor’s visit copays, and 65% say they’re satisfied with their premiums. Overall, 40% say they’ve mostly benefitted from the Affordable Care Act, while only a third say they’ve mostly been negatively affected. But there’s one nagging problem. Even though Americans are generally happy with Obamacare plans, a large minority—38% of marketplace enrollees—say they still “feel vulnerable to high medical bills.” (A similar proportion of people in non-Obamacare plans agree.) Most alarmingly, Americans enrolled in plans that meet ACA requirements are more likely to struggle with medical bills than Americans enrolled in plans that do not meet ACA requirements. Americans in ACA-compliant plans are also more likely to report skipping care because of cost. Even though the Affordable Care Act outlawed annual and lifetime coverage maximums—the health insurance provisions that saddled the insured with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt and doomed the sick to bankruptcy—more than half of Americans enrolled in ACA-compliant plans say they’re worried they won’t be able to afford the health care services they’ll need in the future. One culprit may be high deductibles. In a previous survey, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Obamacare silver plan enrollees have an average $3,453 deductible, meaning they need to pay more than $3,000 out-of-pocket before insurance would cover part of the cost. On average, Americans enrolled in bronze plans need to pay more than $5,372 out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in…”


A quarter of Obamacare enrollees say the law hurt them, even those with gov’t subsidies: Survey

“More than a quarter of Obamacare enrollees say they’ve been negatively affected by the law, according to a study released Thursday that finds deeply partisan views of the 2010 overhaul persist. The Kaiser Family Foundation said 27 percent of people with plans from the law’s marketplace felt worse off, while 53 percent said they had benefitted. The numbers changed little when the survey isolated people who received government subsidies to help them pay for coverage, with 57 percent saying they benefitted and 25 percent holding a negative view. The findings were part of an extensive study on people in the non-group market, or people who got insurance on their own — either on an Obamacare exchange or on the open market — and not through a job or public program. Kaiser said six out of 10 people in this market held a plan through the marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act. Among the non-group market overall, more than half of Republicans (55 percent) said they’ve been negatively affected by Obamacare, while only 19 percent reported a benefit….”


Survey finds 3 out of 4 satisfied with their ObamaCare plans

“The vast majority of people who bought health insurance through ObamaCare exchanges are satisfied with their plans, according to a new national survey. People overwhelmingly said they felt positively about their choices of doctors and hospitals and their copays for appointments and prescriptions, delivering good news for the Obama administration one year into the law’s rollout. More surprisingly, that satisfaction also extended to people’s monthly premiums and annual deductibles, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Sixty percent of ObamaCare customers said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their monthly premium costs — more than people who bought coverage before the healthcare law went into effect. Among those who say they’ve felt an effect from the healthcare law, people were more likely to say they have been impacted positively than negatively. Forty percent say they’ve benefited, whether through better access to coverage or lower costs. That compares to one-third of people who say they’ve been harmed, mostly through increased costs. The results of the survey, which is one of the most comprehensive to date about health insurance plans offered through the marketplaces, reveal a strong partisan divide that has been evident throughout the law’s rollout. Republicans were far more likely than Democrats to say they were harmed by the law, at a rate of 55 percent to 19 percent. Regardless of party, medical costs remain a barrier to some under the healthcare law. The biggest concerns nationally continue to be premiums and deductibles, which multiple reports warn are rising, even with the law’s insurance rules. Another study out this week found that at least 31 million people had to pay so much for deductibles and copays that they are considered “underinsured” — a figure that has doubled in the last decade…”


Rate hikes expose shaky foundation of Obamacare

“Though supporters of President Obama’s healthcare program tout its success in providing insurance to millions of Americans, recent rate filings from large insurers have revealed that the law is built on a shaky foundation. In recent weeks, large insurers selling coverage through Obamacare have proposed massive rate increases for 2016 – even exceeding 40 percent – because they haven’t been able to sign up enough young and healthy customers. This is an ominous sign for the future of Obamacare, because two federal programs that were supposed to act as training wheels for insurers in the early years of Obamacare by absorbing excess risk are set to expire after 2016. If insurers don’t do a better job of attracting a healthier risk pool, 2017 promises to be a rocky year for insurance markets, regardless of which party is in control of the White House. In the first two years of the implementation of Obamacare’s insurance exchanges (2014 and 2015), insurers set rates with the expectation that the government would absorb a certain degree of risk and they made assumptions about the medical costs of their enrollees…”


House Chairman Calls For ObamaCare Watchdog

“The Obama administration has spent billions of taxpayer dollars implementing the Affordable Care Act, often taking vast liberties with statutory language. The administration’s actions were the subject of a House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, chaired by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL). Roskam is calling for a Special Inspector General to investigate the administration’s actions and track how tens of billions of dollars have been spent. Implementation of the sweeping and complex law stretches across eight separate federal agencies so no one agency IG can see the patterns and possible abuses taking place. Rep. Roskam’s SIGMA Act (Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act) would create an ObamaCare watchdog to conduct much-needed audits of the ACA to guard against further waste of tax dollars, such as the extraordinarily expensive and problem-prone exchange websites. I testified before yesterday’s hearing, citing our work chronicling 31 instances in which the administration has issued regulations or guidance that conflict with the language of the statute. While the ACA has caused enormous disruption to our health sector and economy, these problems have been exacerbated because the administration has played fast and loose with its executive authority. Rather than abide by the law or ask Congress to amend it, the administration has instead made significant changes through regulation, guidance, and even blog posts. 50 changes to ObamaCare…so far – The Galen Institute has tracked the major changes made to the ACA since it was enacted five years ago, and we count at least 50 changes – 31 by the administration, 17 passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, plus two changes made by the Supreme Court….”


Obamacare expansion cash could fill huge highway funding gap

“Are Republicans willing to increase taxes or cut infrastructure spending to keep federal taxpayers on the hook for Obamacare expansion? Congressman Bruce Westerman hopes not, and the Republican freshman from Arkansas is offering another option. Westerman will introduce a bill Thursday to patch a hole in the Highway Trust Fund with money saved by reducing Obamacare expansion’s federal match rate to traditional Medicaid levels. “My bill provides a consistent, long-term solution that is fiscally responsible and prioritizes spending,” Westerman said in an email to Watchdog.org. “My solution could also help reduce deficit spending.” Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to able-bodied, working-age childless adults has been implemented in 29 states and is entirely federally funded. The federal share of expansion costs is set to taper to 90 percent by 2020. Federal funding for traditional Medicaid recipients — pregnant women, poor families, the disabled and the elderly — is far less, as high as 74 percent in some states and as low as 50 percent in others. Westerman estimates that if the feds quit paying extra for Obamacare expansion, $15 billion per year could be added to the Highway Trust Fund and another $150 billion would be saved over a 10-year period. While outside the scope of Westerman’s bill, reforms cutting Highway Trust Fund spending and returning most responsibility for infrastructure to the states would save federal taxpayers even more…”


Obamacare’s State Exchange Crack-Up

Hawaii’s health insurance exchange teeters on the brink, and others struggle to find funding.

“In February, the state of Hawaii, which is one of the states running its own health insurance exchange under Obamacare, confirmed that, like most other states and the federal government, it would be opening its exchange for a special enrollment period during the six weeks after tax season. The somewhat unexpected idea, which originated a few months ago with congressional Democrats, was to allow individuals hit with a tax penalty for not carrying insurance last year to sign up for this year, and avoid another penalty as a result. The federal government, always amenable to implementation alterations that might boost Obamacare’s sign-up numbers, announced that the federally run exchanges would hold special enrollment period for those people running from March 15 through the end of April, and most other states joined in as well. But the plan seems to have largely fizzled, or at least underperformed. Only about 147,000 people signed up in the 36 federal exchanges. Another 100,000 or so signed up during the extra time in other states. In some places, the response rate was particularly weak: Hawaii, for example, didn’t sign up a single person during its extended enrollment period. Not a solitary one—there were literally zero takers. It is merely the latest ominous sign for Hawaii’s exchange, which received more than $200 million in federal grants. And it is the most dramatic recent illustration of the ways that Obamacare’s state-run exchanges continue to struggle well into the law’s second year of full-on implementation…”


IRS finished ObamaCare prep at the buzzer

“The IRS didn’t give a final test to its ObamaCare systems until less than a week before this year’s filing season kicked off, a federal watchdog said Thursday.  Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration found that the team that tests IRS systems didn’t access the Affordable Care Act system before they started their work in November 2014. The Final Integration Test (FIT) team is charged with ensuring that all the various IRS systems can coexist during the filing season. It then got eight separate versions of ObamaCare applications between November and Jan. 15, 2015 — five days before the filing season opened. The Treasury inspector general said the delays in getting the ACA systems to the FIT team pushed back needed tests of the programs, which increased “the risk of filing season processing errors that would have been identified and corrected.” On top of that, IRS inspectors were forced to seek the highest priority assistance to deal with problems with the electronic filing system. Despite those issues, the watchdog expressed concern that the IRS wasn’t taking the problems seriously enough. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, has said that the agency largely met the challenges of ObamaCare’s first filing season. The agency said in response to the new audit that it had “made considerable progress” in testing, and had adequate procedures in place…”


Why LA’s $15 Minimum Wage Will Really Be $19.28

“The Los Angeles City Council this week voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But the effective cost for employers likely will spike to nearly $20, at least for full-time workers.

Once all the nonwage costs are added, including payroll taxes, paid sick leave and the big one — ObamaCare’s employer mandate — minimum compensation for a full-time worker could rise as high as $19.28 an hour by 2020, an IBD analysis finds. That would amount to a jump of $10.67, or 124%, since June 2014. Seemingly absent from the minimum-wage debate has been the reality that at $15 an hour, many workers will no longer qualify for Medicaid. Even single parents with two children who worked 40 hours a week would earn more than Medicaid’s cutoff (if inflation stays at 2%). In effect, the L.A. City Council is asking employers to lift their low-wage workers to the middle class and give them health insurance. Here’s how L.A. employers will see their cost of a full-time minimum-wage worker rise by $10.67 an hour from June 2014 to 2020.

Wages And Taxes: Including the $1-an-hour increase last July, wages and payroll taxes will rise $7.54 an hour. Sick Leave: Three days of paid sick leave that take effect in June will add 19 cents to the hourly wage…”


Feds offer Florida partial payment in ObamaCare spat

“The Obama administration on Thursday agreed to give Florida some but not all of its requested federal funds for hospitals, the latest move in a fight over ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) last month sued the Obama administration over what he called an effort to force his state to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, by withholding funds for a separate federal program that compensates hospitals for treating uninsured people, called the Low Income Pool (LIP).  The allegations of coercion have spilled onto Capitol Hill, where Republicans have announced a hearing on the issue this summer and have written to President Obama calling on him to stop the “overreach.”  The Obama administration has countered that the LIP decision will be made “regardless” of Medicaid expansion but noted that LIP funds should be tailored so they do not cover costs that would otherwise be covered by Medicaid expansion. That is, it argues it is a better system to give poor people insurance in the first place through Medicaid, rather than reimburse hospitals for treating uninsured people, as LIP does. The White House made its latest move on Thursday by giving Florida the “preliminary” notice that it will fund a smaller LIP program, at $1 billion, down from $2.16 billion currently. It says Florida’s request to continue the funding at about the same level does not meet the standard of being tailored to avoid overlap with potential Medicaid expansion.  The move gives Scott some but not all of what he wanted. He had begun preparing to receive no LIP funds at all, saying the White House had effectively rejected his request by refusing to make a decision. Although the White House made a decision, it notes the formal review process is still going forward.  Scott’s office has so far declined to comment on the Obama administration’s move. A letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to Florida on Thursday says the $1 billion for next year will help provide “stability” while the state transitions to a different system. In 2016-2017, the funding will fall again to $600 million….”


Texas Senate considers ‘Scarlet Letter’ Obamacare bill

“Texas legislators are considering a bill that would label patients’ health insurance identification cards to show whether they purchased their coverage on the Obamacare insurance marketplace. House Bill 1514, introduced by Rep. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville, would require the cards to bear the letters QHP—for qualified health plan. The House passed the bill last week and it is expected to be considered by the Senate as soon as Thursday. Physicians say the bill will help avoid loss of coverage for patients and prevent retroactive denials by insurance companies that will leave doctors holding the bill. But consumer advocates — who are calling the measure the Scarlet Letter Bill — say it opens the door to discrimination. “The bill does not solve any problems, it just labels people,” said Jose Camacho, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers. “Nothing is achieved by merely labeling someone as a marketplace patient. It is not helpful, and worse, could result in providers avoiding patients who they are contractually obligated to serve.” Doctors have argued that unless they can quickly determine that a patient has an exchange plan, they could get caught in a loophole that would leave them absorbing the costs of providing their services. Under the Affordable Care Act, some plans carry a 90-day grace period if a patient falls behind in paying the premium. Insurance companies must cover the cost of care provided in the first 30 days, even if the patient never pays the overdue premium. But in the last 60 days of the grace period, insurance companies can retroactively terminate the insurance policy and request a refund of any payments made to providers…”


Obama’s Game of Chicken with the Supreme Court

“Sometime next month, the Supreme Court will decide King v. Burwell, and the conventional wisdom about the stakes in the case appears to have shifted. The case represents a challenge to the core of the Affordable Care Act. The plaintiffs charge that, based on a strict reading of single sentence (actually, four words), federal health-insurance subsidies should be available only in the sixteen states (and the District of Columbia) that set up their own health exchanges, or marketplaces. This means, they argue, that there should be no subsidies for people who now buy insurance on the federal exchange in the other thirty-four states. At the moment, about thirteen million people receive those subsidies. The people with the most riding on the outcome, of course, are those thirteen million. Without subsidies, it’s likely that most of them will no longer be able to afford their insurance. Until recently, the perception has also been that the Democrats had the largest political stake in the case. After all, the A.C.A. is the signature achievement of the Democratic President. Suddenly, though, and paradoxically, it has come to seem that Obamacare’s Republican opponents are most at risk if the decision goes their way. They have the most to lose by winning. As Jonathan Chait wrote recently, “The chaos their lawsuit would unleash might blow back in a way few Republicans had considered until recently, and now, on the eve of a possible triumph, they find themselves scrambling to contain the damage.” In this view, the peril is especially great for Republicans, because, as Jonathan Cohn recently pointed out, the G.O.P. has failed to propose any kind of plan to address the loss of insurance for so many millions of people. So that’s the theory: millions will suddenly be uninsured, and will blame Republicans. As Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, put it recently, “I don’t think they will [win the case]. If they do, that’s a problem that the Republicans have.” No, it’s not. If the Obama Administration loses in the Supreme Court, the political pain will fall almost exclusively on the President and his Party. To paraphrase Colin Powell and the Pottery Barn rule, President Obama will have broken health care, so he owns it. To the vast mass of Americans who follow politics casually or not at all, Obamacare and the American system of health care have become virtually synonymous. This may not be exactly right or fair, but it’s a reasonable perception on the part of most people. The scope of the Affordable Care Act is so vast, and its effects so pervasive, that there is scarcely a corner of health care, especially with regards to insurance, that is unaffected by it. So if millions lose insurance, they will hold it against Obamacare, and against Obama. Blaming the President in these circumstances may be unfair, but it’s the way American politics works…”


It’s a historic day for memes. Sen. Murphy uses shruggie on Senate floor.

“Thursday became an important day in meme history when a member of the U.S. Senate used a shruggie on the floor. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the image was a “pretty good summary” of the Republicans thoughts on King v. Burwell, a Supreme Court cases challenging the Affordable Care Act….”


Notre Dame Dealt Setback In Obamacare Lawsuit

“A federal appeals court Wednesday shot down an effort by the University of Notre Dame to have itself exempted from the Obamacare contraception mandate. In a 2-1 ruling, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that while Notre Dame will be allowed to challenge the contraception mandate, it will not be allowed a temporary exemption while its case is litigated. While the ruling isn’t a final one, though, it is also a bad sign, indicating that the court views the school’s challenge as less likely to succeed. After the passage of Obamacare in 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promulgated new regulations requiring all employers providing health insurance to also provide coverage for birth control. Exemptions were granted for religious bodies (such as churches), but not for religiously-affiliated entities, such as Catholic universities. Later, after encountering fierce opposition, the Obama administration crafted a compromise that allows non-profits to request an exemption by submitting a form to HHS. Notre Dame, however, argues that even filing such a request makes it “complicit” in the provision of birth control, in violation of its Catholic beliefs, because filing that request will put in motion a government provision that will require the school’s insurers to provide employees birth control for free. The school sued…”


Congress Reaches Deal to Keep Construction Going on Massively Over-Budget VA Hospital

“Lawmakers have reached a deal to keep construction underway on a troubled Veterans Administration hospital outside Denver. The Veterans Affairs Department was on the verge of running out of money for the project, estimated to be $1 billion over its construction budget. It warned that construction would stop unless Congress acted by Sunday to lift a spending cap.

House Speaker John Boehner at first refused, arguing the VA needed to come up with a longer-term plan and make far-reaching internal changes in its culture. He relented Thursday, agreeing to a short-term deal that will keep construction moving for three weeks while a long-term deal is negotiated. Colorado lawmakers pushed mightily for an extension that would allow the project to move forward. They argued it was essential to the community. The VA had struggled to persuade skeptical lawmakers to fund the vast, half-finished facility in suburban Denver. The department had said it would run out of cash and construction would stop next week unless Congress raised the project’s $800 million spending cap by Sunday. The contractor had said a shutdown would delay the project by months and raise the cost beyond the current estimate, $1.73 billion. The VA asked Congress to approve additional spending and keep construction going with money already in hand while sorting out a longer-term plan. It also offered to cut the cost by about $55 million by indefinitely delaying construction of a nursing home and a post-traumatic stress disorder clinic on the hospital campus. Boehner wanted more cuts and a plan to pay for the entire project, not just to keep construction moving for a few months, said Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican whose district includes the hospital….”




“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is pressing the Obama administration for answers on an illegal immigrant allegedly granted executive amnesty who’s now charged with child molestation and distributing child pornography. According to Grassley, whistleblowers allege that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement knew Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla — a camp counselor in California now charged with four felonies including child molestation — was part of child exploitation investigation as early as November 2014. The whistleblowers further note that Covarrubias-Padilla applied for the executive amnesty Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 and received an approval through May 2015. He was arrested on May 7, 2015. “These allegations are deeply troubling because, if true, they suggest that DHS was aware for months or years that Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla posed a public safety threat to the children he was monitoring, yet took no action to revoke his DACA authorization,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Wednesday. Grassley further noted that there also appears to be a lack of communication between various arms within DHS. “Of note, news sources have reported that the Santa Clara Sherriff’s Office initiated Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla’s arrest after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contacted them with concerns about Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla’s involvement in child exploitation and child pornography. These reports raise significant questions concerning the coordination of ICE and USCIS, in regards to DACA recipients,” Grassley wrote. The allegations against DHS in the Covarrubias-Padilla are the latest in a number of concerning individuals granted executive amnesty — including a known gang member who later went on to kill four people in Charlotte, N.C…”


Amnesty Granted To Child Molesting Camp Counselor Known As ‘Papa Bear’

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) knew last year that an illegal alien California camp counselor known as “Papa Bear” was being investigated on child molestation and child pornography charges but did nothing about it, Iowa U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley claims in a letter sent to DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson on Wednesday. Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla was arrested May 7 and charged with four felonies including child molestation and the distribution of child pornography. According to local news reports, authorities believe that Covarrubias-Padilla also produced child pornography. Covarrubias-Padilla recently worked as a night counselor at Walden West, an environmental science camp near San Jose. Besides the recovery of 600 child porn images from his computer, Covarrubias-Padilla has been accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy. The Santa Clara County Office of Education told Grassley’s office that it had received over 100 phone calls and 50 emails from parents concerned that their child may have been victimized. Covarrubias-Padilla worked at two other camps over the past two years. In his letter to Johnson, Grassley stated that whistleblowers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a DHS sub-agency — claim that the federal authorities knew as early as Nov. 17 that Covarrubias-Padilla was being investigated for child sex abuse charges…”


A Young Woman’s Stunning Encounter With Drug Warriors Disguised As Immigration Agents


Texas demands Obama prove he’s halted deportation amnesty

“Texas asked a federal judge Wednesday to consider imposing a fine on the Obama administration lawyers who misled the court over President Obama’s amnesty, filing papers saying the Justice Department is still trying to hide details of how Homeland Security botched the rollout of the program. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the lawsuit trying to stop Mr. Obama’s amnesty, also said the misleading and other errors — including approving 2,000 amnesty applications even after Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued an injunction — cry out for the court to babysit the administration, including making them prove that the illegal immigrants really are sending back their wrongly-issued works permits. The filings came in the case that has halted Mr. Obama’s deportation amnesty, where the administration is pleading with Judge Hanen not to punish them despite having admitted they broke his injunction — inadvertently, they say. But Mr. Paxton said the errors prove the amnesty is “so large and complex that not even [administration officials] have a full grasp of what their machinery is doing.” “The facts regarding defendants’ compliance seem to be constantly evolving, Mr. Paxton said. The problem stems from the grant of amnesty and work permits to Dreamers under Mr. Obama’s original 2012 amnesty. In his 2014 expansion, Mr. Obama expanded the original two-year program to three years, and immediately began approving applications under those terms — even though his lawyers told Judge Hanen that no part of the new amnesty was in effect….”


Obama Administration in States’ Immigration Lawsuit: ‘Computer Ate My Homework’

“The Justice Department’s latest filings in the immigration lawsuit brought by 26 states in the Southern District of Texas are a little hard to believe — and somewhat comical, in a way. Back in February, Judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction against the implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Now, in an attempt to explain why the injunction was violated, Leon Rodriguez, director of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), has outlined in an affidavit a long list of instructions and orders he gave to implement Hanen’s order. The main excuse given for USCIS’s issuing three-year deferrals and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to 2,000 illegal immigrants after the injunction was in place is that its computer system failed. But fear not. Rodriguez is “taking steps, including the modification of USCIS computer systems, to further minimize the potential for human error that could lead to unintended” violations of the injunction “in future DACA cases, regardless of the circumstances.” (There is no indication whether the autonomous computer system that made these errors is named “HAL.”) Rodriguez does admit that USCIS “should have exercised greater management oversight of the efforts to halt the production and issuance of three-year notices and EADs.” But that’s not really much of an admission — there is no question thaat USCIS violated Judge Hanen’s injunction despite Rodriguez’s self-proclaimed “clear intent to stop the approval or issuance” of these documents. Rodriguez assures the judge that USCIS will get to the bottom of this, his own failure, noting that DHS has asked its inspector general to “investigate the circumstances” of what happened. The Justice Department filed a second affidavit, from Donald W. Neufeld, associate director for service-center operations at USCIS, supporting Rodriguez. Keep in mind that the administration’s main justification for the president’s 2012 program for immigrants who arrived as children (DACA) and for his expanded 2014 program (DAPA) is that, by exercising prosecutorial discretion to legalize illegal immigrants under these programs, DHS could focus on removing the most dangerous aliens — those who are a threat to national security or public safety. Yet Neufeld blames DHS’s unlawful issuance on “recently discovered errors in its identification and tracking of cases decided under the 2012 DACA” program. In other words, DHS violated Judge Hanen’s injunction because of tracking errors in its computer system — the same system that supposedly will enable DHS to identify the “most dangerous” illegal immigrants and distinguish them from all of the others receiving benefits under the DACA and DAPA programs…”


House Democrats call for end to immigrant family detention

“Two House Democrats from California called for the Department of Homeland Security to end its practice of holding families seeking asylum in jail-like detention centers while they wait for their cases to play out. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose said that after visiting Syrians who had fled to Jordan to escape violence in their homeland, she found the conditions under which immigrant women and children are being held in the U.S. more appalling. “The Jordanians are treating the refugees from Syria a heck of a lot better than we’re treating immigrants from Honduras,” Lofgren said. Lofgren was joined at a news conference in Washington by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and a former detainee, Maria Rosa Lopez. The three representatives have been frequent critics of federal immigration policy. A surge of women and children from Central America last summer overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system. As a short-term fix, the government placed those seeking asylum in mass detention centers, where many remain today…”


Chris Hayes vs. Ted Cruz Spokesman on Immigration, 2016

“Rick Tyler, national spokesperson for the Ted Cruz campaign, joins Chris Hayes to debate immigration reform.”


What’s Trending In The U.S. EB-5 Investor Immigration World?



“Representative Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)18% said President Obama really didn’t evaluate what he could or couldn’t do” regarding his executive action on immigration during an interview with the Huffington Post released on Wednesday. Gutierrez stated, “Remember when Obama said ‘I can’t do anymore, I’m not king and I’m not emperor. I can’t do anymore, the Congress has to act.’ Here’s what I believe, I believe the president really didn’t evaluate what he could or couldn’t do because he wanted Congress to act and that was his preferred route to justice for our immigrant community. But when he saw, and Boehner gave him a call, last summer and said, … ‘we’re not going to give you a vote,’ that’s when the president acted.”


Gutierrez: Hillary Used To Be ‘Paralyzed’ On Immigration Before Amnesty Flip-Flop [VIDEO]

“Hillary Clinton may be “evolving” on immigration in the early stages of the 2016 race, but pro-amnesty Rep. Luis Gutierrez admitted Wednesday that he’s seen the flip flop involving her past statements on the issue. In a Thursday interview with The Huffington Post, Gutierrez told Laura Barron-Lopez that while he’s glad Clinton is coming to his side on immigration, he remembers when Clinton was “paralyzed” by the issue during the 2008 presidential race. “Look, everybody’s evolving,” Gutierrez said. “I remember when Hillary — when all the children first came to the border, Hillary said ‘oh, they can’t just show up. They have to be sent back home.’ She’s not there anymore.” “You remember when Hillary — what was in 2008? Yeah, it was 2008 — and they asked Hillary a question about drivers licenses for undocumented and she was paralyzed! Oh my god,” Gutierrez said before imitating the former secretary of state. “‘Oh, I don’t know, I don’t think so.’”…”



“Representative Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) 18% expressed his pleasure with Hillary Clinton changing her immigration position from last year in an interview with the Huffington Post released on Wednesday. Gutierrez said, “Look, everybody’s evolving. I remember when Hillary, when the children first came to the border, and Hillary said, ‘Oh, they can’t just show up. They have to be sent back home.’ She’s not there anymore. You remember when Hillary, what was it, in 2008? Yeah, it was 2008, and they asked Hillary a question about driver’s licenses for the undocumented? And She was paralyzed. ‘Oh my God. I don’t know. I don’t think so?’” Earlier, he praised Jeb Bush for his position on DACA and DAPA, stating that he essentially has the same position as President Obama.”


GOP candidates are flip-flopping to please the base. That could hurt later on.

“Scott Walker was hot and then cold on a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Jeb Bush was yes and then no on invading Iraq. Marco Rubio was in and then out on offsetting increased military spending with other cuts. The Republican presidential primary is starting to sound like a Katy Perry song. GOP rivals have adjusted their positions on a host of issues defining the battle for the nomination. The common thread: They are lurching to the right and struggling to explain themselves, which could bring negative consequences in the general election. The moves range from minor tweaks to 180-degree turns and are aimed mostly at addressing individual weaknesses early in the contest. Most of the pivots have come on immigration, national security and education, reflecting an urgent desire to fall in line with a party that has become more conservative on several fronts since the last presidential election. “The conservative agenda is what is winning the field,” said L. Brent Bozell III, a leading conservative activist. “And people who have either not taken a conservative position or took one softly are having to commit if they want to win the primary.” Hillary Rodham Clinton, the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination, is also catering to her party’s base. Republicans claim she has flip-flopped on support for an Asian free trade pact strongly opposed by labor unions and progressive activists. Democrats say they are happy to see Republicans race to the right, since they believe it will put the eventual GOP nominee out of step with the general electorate. Some Republicans are nervous about that possibility. “You have to be careful when you are doing this — that you don’t so embrace your base that it becomes impossible to move and have some flexibility or nuances in your position moving forward,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)….”




“Supporters of President Barack Obama’s trade agenda are scrambling to keep Senate foes from killing it Thursday before a full-blown debate even begins. They need 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to keep a mostly Democratic-driven filibuster from blocking further action. Obama wants “fast track” authority to negotiate trade proposals that Congress can approve or reject, but not change. If he prevails, Obama is expected to ask Congress to approve a free-trade accord with Japan, Canada, Mexico and eight other Pacific Rim countries. The trade agenda is among Obama’s highest second-term priorities. Support was thought to be higher in the Senate than in the House, which is awaiting trade action, so a Senate defeat would be especially embarrassing. The politics of trade have been strange from the start. Republican lawmakers generally support expanded trade deals, but many are loath to give Obama any new victories. Most congressional Democrats and key liberal groups oppose new trade deals, saying they ship U.S. job overseas. But an uncertain number of House and Senate Democrats support Obama on trade, and the White House has lobbied heavily to expand that group…”


Obama’s trade deal clears key Senate hurdle

“President Obama’s trade agenda cleared a key Senate hurdle and advanced toward passage on Thursday despite the strong opposition of most Democrats. The 62-38 vote capped a long, tense roll call on a measure that will allow Obama to negotiate trade deals that Congress can only accept or reject, but not change. With Republicans generally in favor of the measure, the pivotal votes were cast by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and a handful of other lawmakers who support the trade measure. They used the showdown as leverage to seek a commitment that the Senate would act next month on legislation to keep the Export-Import Bank in existence. The government-backed bank backs overseas sales by U.S. companies. The bank’s legal authority expires at June 30, and conservatives in the House are making a major effort to put it out of business. The White House sought the legislation to improve prospects for a trade treaty under negotiations with other Pacific-Rim nations. Supporters say a deal would boost U.S. exports and create jobs for an economy still not showing full strength. Labor unions and other groups vital to Democrats strongly oppose Mr. Obama’s trade agenda. They say free-trade deals cost U.S. jobs…”


Senate takes key step toward passing fast-track for Obama

“The Senate voted Thursday to end debate on fast-track trade legislation, handing a significant victory to President Obama and moving the bill a step closer to passage. Senators voted 62-38 on the bill, which will allow the president to send a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade deal to Congress for an up-or-down vote, and prevent the deal from being amended by Congress.

Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) were among the final Democratic yes votes.  They appeared to vote after Cantwell secured an agreement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow a vote in June on renewing the Export-Import Bank’s charter.  The bank, which has come under criticism from conservative Republicans, helps finance U.S. investments meant to increase trade, and has been supported in the past by Boeing.  The very final vote was cast by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a former U.S. trade representative for the Bush administration who is in a tough reelection cycle. He voted yes. Thirteen Democrats in total voted to end debate on a measure that badly divided Obama from his party. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) were among his fiercest opponents…”


Obama’s trade agenda clears key Senate hurdle

“President Obama’s trade agenda cleared a key Senate hurdle and advanced toward likely passage on Thursday despite opposition from most Democrats.  The 62-38 vote capped a long, tense roll call on a measure that would allow Obama to negotiate trade deals that Congress can accept or reject, but not change. If opponents had garnered three more votes, they would have been able to block the legislation with a procedural move. With Republicans generally in favor of the measure, the pivotal votes came from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and a handful of others who support the trade measure. They used the showdown as leverage for a commitment that the Senate would act next month on legislation to keep the Export-Import Bank in existence. The government-backed bank guarantees loans for overseas sales by U.S. companies. The bank’s legal authority expires June 30, and conservatives in the House are seeking to put it out of business. Obama and major business groups worked in the final hours to help secure the needed Senate votes on trade. Obama made phone calls late Wednesday night to Democratic senators including Cantwell and Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat handling the trade legislation. And leaders of the Business Council met early Thursday with Democratic Senate leaders. They included Boeing chief executive James McNerny, a strong supporter of reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank, said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Durbin, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, said the Ex-Im Bank was among the topics discussed…”


Senate votes to give Obama fast-track authority on Pacific Rim trade deal

“President Obama’s bid to secure a broad trade deal with Pacific Rim nations cleared a major hurdle Thursday as the Senate voted to advance legislation that would give him expanded authority to complete the accord. On a vote of 62 to 38, the measure for fast-track authority received just enough Democratic support to keep it moving, following a last-ditch lobbying effort by Obama and his top advisers. The fate of the legislation, known as the Trade Promotion Authority, hung in the balance for more than 30 minutes during the vote, as it remained shy of the 60 ayes needed to advance and as more than a dozen senators from both parties negotiated the last details of the legislation and side issues. During an afternoon meeting with his Cabinet at the White House, Obama thanked the senators who supported his push for fast-track powers, calling the vote “a big step forward this morning on a trade agenda that is consistent with strong labor standards, strong environmental standards, and access to markets that too often are closed even as these other countries are selling goods in the United States. “It’s an agenda that is good for U.S. businesses, but most importantly, it is good for American workers,” Obama said…”


Obama Is One Step Closer to Having Renewed Trade Authority

“President Barack Obama’s trade agenda cleared a key Senate hurdle and advanced toward likely passage on Thursday despite the strong opposition of most Democrats. The 62-38 vote capped a long, tense roll call on a measure that would allow Obama to negotiate trade deals that Congress can accept or reject, but not change. If opponents had garnered three more votes, they would have blocked the legislation with a procedural move. With Republicans generally in favor of the measure, the pivotal votes were cast by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and a handful of other lawmakers who support the trade measure. They used the showdown as leverage to seek a commitment that the Senate would act next month on legislation to keep the Export-Import Bank in existence. The government-backed bank backs overseas sales by U.S. companies. The bank’s legal authority expires June 30, and conservatives in the House are making a major effort to put it out of business. Obama and major business groups worked in the final hours to help secure the needed Senate votes on trade. Obama made phone calls late Wednesday night to Democratic senators including Cantwell and Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat handling the trade legislation. And leaders of the Business Council met early Thursday with Democratic Senate leaders. They included Boeing chief executive James McNerny, a strong supporter of reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank, said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Durbin, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, said the Ex-Im was among the topics discussed…”


Senate Narrowly Advances President Obama’s Trade Bill: Here’s Why It Was So Close

“The Senate narrowly advanced a bill that would give President Obama the “fast-track” authority to negotiate trade deals with foreign partners. Sixty votes were needed to move forward with the measure, and the Senate voted 62 to 38 in favor of invoking cloture — setting up a vote on final passage for this week before the Senate leaves for Memorial Day recess. The vote was a squeaker, going down to the wire with many observers unsure how a group of senators, led by Sens. Maria Cantwell, R-Washington, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, threatening to vote against advancing the measure if a vote was not held on the Export-Import bank. With Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, draping his arms over the South Carolinian’s shoulder, Graham and Cantwell were at the center of intense negotiations on the Senate floor with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who eventually assured the senators he would allow a vote on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank despite personally opposing the measure. After nearly thirty minutes of huddling, Graham and Cantwell voted in favor of invoking cloture on the trade bill, opening the floodgates for other senators to advance the measure. Many Senate Democrats, who normally side with the White House on its legislative agenda, opposed the measure over concerns about a lack of amendments and secrecy surrounding the bill. “We’re going to shut down debate on the first full day of consideration?” Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said ahead of the vote. “We’re not being unreasonable. We’re playing this straight. We’re simply asking for the Senate to debate this legislation.” Before the vote, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, offered votes on nine amendments to the measure, but Brown objected, saying it didn’t reflect a thorough amendment process. If the Senate failed to advance the bill, it would have sent a brutal blow to the White House. Last week, Senate Democrats defeated the first effort to move forward with the legislation. “What we just witnessed here is Democratic senators shutting down debate on the top economic prio

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