Opinion Journal: The Tea Party Agenda for 2016

“Tea Party Patriots President and Co-Founder Jenny Beth Martin on her organization’s policy priorities.”


Tea party lawmakers: Republican leaders are punishing us for defying them (Photo and caption)

“U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) (R) greets attendees as he arrives to speak at the Tea Party Patriots ‘Exempt America from Obamacare’ rally on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 10, 2013.”



Obamacare for Your IRA

A new regulation would let the government decide what you can invest in — for your own good, of course.

“Is Jonathan Gruber — the MIT economist who seemingly dropped out of public view after he was caught on camera bragging about how he and other Obamacare architects misled the American public — now advising the Department of Labor? No evidence indicates that he is, but the authors of DOL’s sweeping new seven-part group of regulations that would sharply curtail choices of assets and investment strategies in 401(k)s, IRAs, and other savings plans appear to share Gruber’s mindset on the “stupidity of the American voter” (a revelation that Rich Lowry aptly described as “an unvarnished look into the progressive mind, which . . . favors indirect taxes and impositions on the American public so their costs can be hidden, and has a dim view of the average American”). Now President Obama and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez are advancing a new regulatory and hidden-tax scheme while claiming to protect average Americans’ retirement savings from unscrupulous financial professionals. The proposed “fiduciary rule” would restrict the investment choices of holders of 401(k)s, IRAs, health savings accounts, and Coverdell education accounts. In a speech to AARP, Obama proclaimed: If you are working hard, if you’re putting away money, if you’re sacrificing that new car or that vacation so that you can build a nest egg for later, you should have the peace of mind of knowing that the advice you’re getting for investing those dollars is sound, that your investments are protected. Similarly, a DOL “fact sheet” describes the rule as “protecting investors from backdoor payments and hidden fees in retirement investment advice.” The sinister-sounding “backdoor payments” actually refers to a longstanding practice of compensation to brokers from many mutual funds and annuities. This practice is disclosed to investors and enables brokers to charge them less because of the additional compensation that brokers receive. Yet upon further reading, the DOL rule seems premised on the Gruberite notion that American investors need protection from their own stupidity. According to page 4 of the rule:   [I]ndividual retirement investors have much greater responsibility for directing their own investments, but they seldom have the training or specialized expertise necessary to prudently manage retirement assets on their own. Therefore, they “need guidance on how to manage their savings to achieve a secure retirement.”


Saginaw County commissioners to work 29 hours or less to avoid ‘Obamacare’ requirement

“Each of the 11 members of the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners has formally pledged they would work no more than 29 hours per week. The resolution, approved by the board at its meeting Tuesday, April 21, was brought to the table by Controller Robert Belleman. Belleman explained that the resolution is necessary to ensure that the county government is completely in compliance with requirements in the Affordable Care Act. The federal legislation, known commonly as “Obamacare,” requires employers to provide healthcare to all full-time employees, defined as anyone working 29 hours or more each week, on average. “As such, you would be eligible for healthcare,” Belleman said. “Unless you agree to work less than 29 hours per week, 519 hours in a 90-consecutive-day period or 1,559 hours in any one-year period.” The resolution promises board members will not engage in more than 29 hours of “service in their official capacity” in any given week, no more than 519 hours of service in any 90-day period and no more than 1,559 hours in any one-year period…”


Two-thirds of Obamacare customers had to pay back subsidy amount to IRS: Study

“Nearly two-thirds of tax filers who received government help to buy Obamacare coverage had to pay back some of their subsidy to the IRS, according to an H&R Block study that says the average repayment totaled $729. The end-of-season analysis of the tax-prep giant’s customer base, released Monday, said the typical repayment slashed those customers’ refunds, which averaged $2,195, by a third. The 2014 filing season that officially ended April 15 marked the first time Americans had to address their health care status on their returns. Filers who received an advanced premium tax credit to help them pay their monthly premiums had to reconcile their actual income with earlier estimates they provided to receive the subsidies. Customers who underestimated their income had to pay a share back. However, about a quarter of filers overestimated their income and got money back from the government, tacking on an average of $425 to their refunds. “There was quite a bit of new ACA-related complexity for taxpayers to deal with this tax season,” said Mark Ciaramitaro, vice president of H&R Block health care and tax services. “But our figures highlight the importance of estimating income as accurately as possible when applying for premium tax credits and notifying the Marketplace with any life changes that impact annual household income or size.”…”


Democrats take aim at ObamaCare ‘Cadillac’ tax

“A group of House Democrats are pushing to repeal ObamaCare’s so-called “Cadillac tax,” which they say unfairly targets people in more expensive areas like the Northeast and West Coast. Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) and Dina Titu (D-Nev.) will unveil legislation Tuesday to eliminate the tax on the country’s most expensive insurance plans. The tax, which goes into effect in 2018, is based on the cost of premiums, which the lawmakers point out are higher in areas with more expensive health costs. “The excise tax is an unnecessary change that would adversely impact beneficiaries in high-cost areas,” Courtney’s office said in a release Monday to announce the bill, called the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act. Many Democrats, including President Obama, have supported the tax on high-cost insurance plans, arguing it will only impact only the wealthiest Americans…”


Democrats finally found an Obamacare-related tax hike they hate…

“Talk to any inside-the-Beltway political consultant, and you’ll learn that populism is totally hot right now. They’re not wrong. Polls consistently show that the public has felt the pinch of the economic contraction for going on over six years, and they are getting rather fed up with the fact that too few seem to be feeling their pain. Surveys suggest that the public does believe corporations pay enough in taxes, despite the United States having one of the highest corporate tax burdens in the industrialized world. Moreover, the voting public doesn’t think wealthy individuals pay enough in federal taxes. Surely, some believe that rates are too low while others lament the ability of the rich to evade paying the taxes associated with their brackets due to the fact that they can afford to patronize financial consultants. Whatever the reason, the redistribution of incomes is a popular concept today. But just because something is politically popular doesn’t make it good policy. One of the most popular examples of a punishing and redistributionist tax is that dubbed the “Cadillac Tax,” a levy imposed on high-value health insurance plans as part of the Affordable Care Act. “The attraction of the tax is that it raises money to pay for health reform — about $150 billion from 2013 to 2019 — while simultaneously making health reform less costly, by reducing the over-consumption of health care. Union leaders strenuously oppose even this change,” The Washington Post editorial board gushed in 2010. The massive 40 percent tax would apply to individuals who receive $10,200 in individual coverage or families who pay for $27,500 in insurance. But if this tax was popular, it was also such an onerous burden on health insurance consumers that its implementation was delayed until well after Obama leaves office. Some allege that this particular tax was just another element of Obamacare that was misrepresented in the health care reform pitch to the public. “The Cadillac tax makes sure that more health insurance dollars are spent across a greater number of people. It was probably a bad idea even before the news broke that a once famous and now nearly infamous adviser [Jon Gruber] had a big hand in it,” Forbes contributor Robert Wood wrote in November of last year. “And it seems almost dastardly now, a real bait and switch.”…”


ObamaCare credit reduced taxpayer refunds: H&R Block

“Roughly two out of every three taxpayers who got health insurance through ObamaCare exchanges had to pay back the federal government – to the average tune of $729, according to H&R Block. That payment ate into the average taxpayer refund by roughly a third, the tax preparer said in a Monday release. Taxpayers owed money if the government gave them too much of a tax subsidy to help pay for insurance. The news wasn’t all bad for taxpayers though, H&R Block said. About one in four taxpayers deserved a higher tax credit from the government for insurance, and got an extra $425 on average. Mark Ciaramitaro of H&R Block said those sorts of results were to be expected, given the complexity of the Affordable Care Act. Ciaramitaro, the vice president of healthcare and tax services for H&R Block, said problems are also likely to continue into the 2016 tax filing season….”


Study: ObamaCare, outreach could boost Hispanic health coverage

“A new analysis points to expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare and improving outreach efforts as ways to lower the stubbornly high uninsured rate among Hispanics.  Hispanics have long had higher uninsured rates. The Commonwealth Fund, a health research group, finds that ObamaCare is making a dent but that the rate remains high. It reports that the uninsured rate for Hispanics declined from 40 percent in 2012 to 34 percent in 2014, amid ObamaCare’s expansion. But that is compared to a decline of 20 percent to 18 percent among blacks and 14 percent to 10 percent among whites. The Commonwealth Fund analysis points to ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, as a major factor. In states that have accepted the expansion of eligibility, 26 percent of Hispanics are uninsured, compared to a much higher 46 percent in states that have rejected the expansion, the analysis finds…”


Conservatives fear GOP leaders giving up on Obamacare repeal

They’re intent on using a fast-track process to get a repeal bill on the president’s desk.

“Many House conservatives backed the budget last month and spared GOP leaders another showdown with their right flank for one big reason: They were under the impression the spending blueprint would help them — finally — get an Obamacare repeal to the president’s desk. Now they’re concerned that Speaker John Boehner and company have other plans. Conservatives are adamant that reconciliation — the rarely used fast-track procedure that allows the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority rather than 60 votes — be used to pass a repeal of the health care law. They believed GOP leaders were on board. But as House and Senate lawmakers have met to hash out a compromise budget over the past few weeks, conservatives noted that House Republican leaders have been talking about leaving their options open. An Obamacare repeal is a possibility, but so is a health care “fix” should the Supreme Court knock down some Obamacare tax credits in a case to be decided within a few months. The ambiguity is causing consternation within the House Freedom Caucus, the few dozen conservatives who’ve repeatedly given Boehner grief over big-ticket items that have split the GOP. Some conservatives are pushing Republican leaders to clarify their intentions — with a public announcement, a provision in the budget or a private assurance. “It’s imperative that [Obamacare repeal] be the focus for our reconciliation instructions,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) at a Heritage Foundation event last week, referring to the guidance the budget has to include in order to employ the procedure. House Republicans have already voted more than 50 times to try to defund, alter or overturn the health care law that conservatives despise. The latest effort, if it happens, would no doubt fail, too — and there are some indications that GOP leaders are ready to move on. But getting a bill to President Barack Obama’s desk and forcing him to veto it would send a powerful symbolic message to the Republican base that House conservatives haven’t given up on scuttling the law. The topic took center stage during a recent caucus meeting. It also came up during a press luncheon last week with the most conservative House members. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, has been voicing concerns. No one is threatening to bail on the budget, at least not yet, but conservatives’ angst is palpable…”


Congress’s Bipartisan Obamacare Fraud

“One of the most outrageous but least reported ongoing scandals in Washington is that the House and Senate have both falsely certified themselves as small businesses in order to fund health insurance for themselves and their staff with taxpayer dollars, sidestepping provisions of Obamacare. Senator David Vitter (La.) recently tried to subpoena the documents in which the false declarations were made, but he ran into strong bipartisan opposition. Perhaps most shockingly, Senator Rand Paul – who is campaigning for president on a promise to “defeat the Washington machine” – voted to keep this ultimate Washington insider scam secret. When the Democrats were rushing the health care law through Congress – passing it, perhaps, before they even knew what was in it – Republicans managed, with strong public support, to get language included requiring members of Congress and their staff to go into the new health care exchanges, to experience the same thing millions of Americans would experience and create a strong incentive, therefore, for them to make sure the system works. Like many Americans being dumped into Obamacare exchanges, members of Congress and their staff stood to lose their employer contributions – in this case, the generous financing of their health benefits by taxpayers that they had before the law passed and took it away. But unlike all of the other Americans in that situation, Congress had access to President Obama to personally intervene on their behalf. And he did, with an Office of Personnel Management rule allowing them to have taxpayers continue picking up most of the costs of their premiums. It gets worse. Because there is no mechanism for employer contributions in the individual exchange, Congress also filed false documents claiming the House and Senate each have less than 50 employees to qualify as “small businesses,” even though over 13,700 employees have in fact signed up. That’s fraud. The watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained the false documents in Freedom of Information Act litigation, but the redactions included the most crucial piece of information – the names of the people who signed, under penalty of perjury, the blatantly false statements that the House and Senate each have just 45 employees…”


Democrats take aim at ObamaCare ‘Cadillac’ tax

“A group of House Democrats are pushing to repeal ObamaCare’s so-called “Cadillac tax,” which they say unfairly targets people in more expensive areas like the Northeast and West Coast. Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) and Dina Titu (D-Nev.) will unveil legislation Tuesday to eliminate the tax on the country’s most expensive insurance plans. The tax, which goes into effect in 2018, is based on the cost of premiums, which the lawmakers point out are higher in areas with more expensive health costs. “The excise tax is an unnecessary change that would adversely impact beneficiaries in high-cost areas,” Courtney wrote in a statement Monday to announce his bill, called the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act. Many Democrats, including President Obama, have supported the tax on high-cost insurance plans, arguing it will only impact only the wealthiest Americans. Healthcare customers who receive benefits above $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage will be forced to pay a tax of 40 percent. Republicans, as well as some Democrats, have blasted the tax because it is tied to general cost of living measures, rather than growth in healthcare costs. The tax, which is intended to help finance ObamaCare, has been significantly scaled-down from the Senate-passed healthcare bill. Under that bill, individuals with $8,500-a-year plans and families with $23,000-a-year would have faced the tax. The House-passed bill did not include the tax, meeting the demands of nearly 200 Democrats who had opposed it. The House version became law…”


Reid: GOP can’t ‘accept reality’ on ObamaCare

“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed Republicans Monday, saying they are trying to “escape the reality that ObamaCare is a smashing success.” “As public servants, we have to accept reality, regardless of where we may have stood or what we may have said in the past,” Reid said from the Senate floor. “Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are trying their utmost to escape the reality that ObamaCare is a smashing success.” The Nevada Democrat added that 16 million Americans have gained insurance through President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and that since 2013, the United States has seen its largest decline in uninsured Americans. “I understand that many Senate Republicans have worked hard to make their opposition to Obamacare their legacy,” Reid added. The Senate Democratic leader’s remarks came after the Supreme Court struck down an earlier ruling favorable to the government’s birth control mandate under ObamaCare. The high court Monday asked an appeals court to reconsider a legal challenge filed by Catholic ministries against the mandate requiring employers to cover birth control for workers…”


Obamacare’s constitutionality and the Origination Clause: New evidence

“One of the constitutional disputes triggered by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is whether by substituting new material for the original House-passed bill (H.R. 3590), the Senate exceeded its constitutional power to amend the original measure.  This, in turn, has provoked a debate over whether the Founders considered complete substitutes to be valid amendments. A recently-republished piece of evidence suggests that they did.  The Constitution’s Origination Clause requires that “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”  Because the final version of Obamacare imposed a variety of taxes, it unquestionably was a “Bill for raising Revenue.” Obamacare’s taxes, appropriations, and health care regulations did not exist in the House-passed version of H.R. 3590.  That incarnation of the bill was only a few pages long and was limited to making minor adjustments to the Internal Revenue Code irrelevant to health care.  Under the guise of amendment, the Senate gutted the original language and substituted over 2,000 pages of Obamacare. Some writers argue that complete substitutions were not considered valid amendments during the Founding Era, while others contend that they were.  Last year, I undertook a wide-ranging investigation into the subject that will be published within the next few weeks by the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.  The article is summarized at length here…”


Supreme Court tosses pro-ObamaCare contraception ruling

“The Supreme Court on Monday gave new life to a lawsuit challenging ObamaCare’s contraception mandate, striking down a previous ruling in favor of the federal government. An appeals court in Cincinnati will now reconsider the legal challenge from the Catholic groups in Michigan and Tennessee that had sought exemptions from an ObamaCare provision that requires employers to cover birth control for all workers. The justices asked the lower court to reconsider the case in light of last year’s landmark ruling on the contraception mandate. That ruling, which was issued last June, decided that the arts-and-crafts retailer, Hobby Lobby, could seek an exemption from the contraception mandate for religious reasons. Since then, religious-affiliated companies and organizations have revived their legal challenges of the provision. The ruling in Michigan Catholic Conference v. Burwell marks the third time in a year that the court has thrown out decisions in favor of the Obama administration, sending the cases back to the lower courts. The court also gave hope to Catholic groups last month when it struck down a lower court’s ruling requiring the University of Notre Dame to follow the birth control mandate. That court will now revisit the case from the Roman Catholic university.”


Supreme Court tells another court to reconsider Obamacare mandate for religious groups

“The Supreme Court on Monday told yet another lower court to reconsider cases from Catholic groups who object to the part of Obamacare that requires employers to insure birth control as part of their health plans. Justices told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to revisit its earlier decision in favor of the Obama administration — it wants religious nonprofits to comply with its contraception mandate under a compromise framework — by applying the high court’s decision last year in the “Hobby Lobby” case. In that decision, a divided court said closely held corporations do not have to insure forms of contraception that violate their moral or religious beliefs. Several religious nonprofits are still fighting the administration in court, however, and hoping for a similar showdown before the justices. Nonprofits like the Michigan Catholic Conference, whose objections were kept alive by Monday’s order, have told the Supreme Court they are complicit in sin under an arrangement extended by the administration. And they’ve cheered a string of Supreme Court orders that have put the mandate on hold while circuit-level courts reconsider previous orders against the complaining groups. Since December 2013, the justices have issued some form of relief from the mandate to Little Sisters of the Poor in Colorado, Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College in Illinois, Notre Dame University in Indiana and Archbishop David A. Zubik and the Diocese of Pittsburgh.”


Supreme Court punts on Obamacare birth control mandate

“A federal appeals court will reconsider whether a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate is sufficient for Catholic groups in Michigan and Tennessee. On Monday morning, the Supreme Court tossed the case back to the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which ruled last year that the exemption provides enough cover for the groups to opt out of paying for birth control, which they oppose on religious grounds. The exemption doesn’t go far enough, according to the plaintiffs, which include the Michigan Catholic Conference and the Catholic Diocese of Nashville. The groups are excused for religious reasons from paying directly for birth control coverage, which is otherwise required of mid-size and large employers under Obamacare. But to get exempted, some must fill out a form delegating that responsibility to a third party — and they argue that act alone makes them complicit in providing birth control coverage…”


Over 75? Sign here if you’re ready for death: GPs to ask ALL older patients if they’ll agree to a ‘do not resuscitate’ order

“–New NHS guidelines urge GPs to draw up end-of-life plans for over 75s

–Also applies to younger patients with serious conditions, such as cancer

–Told to ask if patients wants doctors to resuscitate them if health worsens

–Medical professionals say it is ‘blatantly wrong’ and will frighten elderly..”



National Sheriffs’ group hears concerns of local ranchers

“Desperate for decisive action to stop the ever-present incursions across their lands by smugglers and illegal immigrants coming north, more than a dozen ranchers and residents from along Cochise County’s border with Mexico spoke to representatives of a national sheriff’s group on Saturday. Invited to the area by Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, two leading members of the National Sheriffs’ Association visited with locals at the Turquoise Valley Golf Course in Naco to better understand the origin of an issue that has had a national impact. “This is really where it starts. The sheriffs along the border — whether it’s Arizona, Texas, New Mexico or California, it doesn’t matter — they’re the ones that catch the brunt of it. They’re the ones that get the call from the citizens, like those ranchers we heard from. But, when those people get here, get across our border uncontested, then it becomes a national problem,” said Harold Eavenson, the third vice president of the National Sheriffs’ Association and sheriff of Rockwall County, Texas. Decades of repairing broken fences, burglaries, home invasions and other crimes associated with smuggling activities have left many border residents disillusioned with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol enforcement, which they see as ineffective, and with elected officials in Washington who are either unaware of the problem or do not consider it a priority. “The border can be secured, we’ve proved it in a lot of different areas where the Border Patrol has shut it down, but they’ve diverted them farther and farther out into the country, into these peoples’ backyards. It can be secured, but they have to have a desire to do it, and they have to actually have some directions on how to do it,” said Gary Thrasher, a large animal veterinarian who has worked with the ranching community in Cochise County for years. Rancher Fred Davis lamented what he called a lack of innovation in Border Patrol efforts in Cochise County.

“They never try anything new here, they just pound their head against the wall, the same way they’ve done it forever,” Davis said. The source of the issue extends to the nation’s capitol, however. “The main thing is, there’s no will in Washington to shut down the border, and that’s our main problem,” he said. Many of the local ranchers spoke up in support of the efforts of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, and called on federal leaders to work more closely with local law enforcement. “What we really need is more involvement with local police and local sheriffs, in directing how to do it in their area, and they can specifically shut down those areas,” Thrasher said. When local agencies work closely with their federal partners, they produce results, said Sheriff Mark Dannels. An example provided by the sheriff was the early success of a joint task force, the Southeastern Arizona Border Region Enforcement team, established in 2013 and made up of deputies and federal agents from the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “The first six-to-eight weeks they were in operation, they took down 30 people. This is a collaborative effort,” Dannels said. “What we’re doing at the local level are solutions.”

A number of other sheriffs from across Arizona were also present at Saturday’s meeting and spoke on the impacts that poor border security was having in their communities…”


Temporary contract keeps Northwest Detention Center running

“The Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma will remain operating after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the GEO Group Inc. signed a temporary contact. The Tacoma News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1HNRITH ) that the short-term pact was signed Thursday and will extend through May 31. GEO has owned the Detention Center on the Tideflats since 2005 but their most recent contract was put up for bid in December. The long-term contract is expected to be for 10 years and GEO is expected to win it. Giving the contract to another company would require hundreds of people currently housed in the 1,575-bed facility to be moved to other locations. In 2009, GEO was guaranteed $100.65 a day for each of the more than 1,000 detainees promised daily.”


Migration patterns reflect hiring and growing pains for Silicon Valley

“Judging by migration patterns in Silicon Valley, the technology industry may be relying more on foreign talent during the current economic surge. An updated study commissioned by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group found a net increase in residents from abroad in Silicon Valley (defined as Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo counties) last year, along with a net decrease in U.S.-born residents. The new numbers in the Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project study, based on data analysis by Collaborative Economics, used 2014 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the latest data available. The study looks at migration and other indicators to estimate the health of the region, and to inform policy-making at the federal, state and local level — especially around immigration reform. The Leadership Group, together with tech company executives, is pushing for immigration reform that would make it easier for foreign-born people to immigrate to the U.S., expanding the talent pool (and potentially lowering labor costs). That campaign has repeatedly stalled in a Congress that lumps Silicon Valley’s agenda alongside other elements of the immigration debate like border security, prejudice and racism. Immigration reform is essential to recruit people for the area’s innovative industries, said Steve Wright, senior vice president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group…”



“Dan Golvach told the Texas Senate Border Security Subcommittee last week that what he has learned from his son’s murder by an illegal alien is it is “glaringly evident, that the federal government does not seem to be very invested in securing the border.” His testimony came during National Crime Victim’s Rights Week which was observed April 19th – 25th. Other witnesses urged Texas legislators to pass an interstate compact bill because the federal government has failed to do their job “to protect our families.” They testified about the “catastrophic loss” they have faced because of a porous border. In an exclusive interview in February, the grieving father told Breitbart Texas “my son is dead because the concept of borders is dead.” Spencer Golvach was senselessly murdered by an illegal alien who had been deported numerous times after being convicted of crimes, including crimes of violence. Spencer was shot in the head on January 31st while sitting in his car waiting for a stoplight to change. The father of the slain young man and the father’s fiance, Dan Golvach and Gina Wagner, testified before the subcommittee of the Texas Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee last week. Mr. Golvach told the Committee that he was in favor of a bill that would allow for an interstate compact agreement to help secure the border. Golvach testified that his son “played by the rules,” held two jobs, had employees and paid a lot of taxes. He said “This is what his federal government did to him, did for him – nothing.” Golvach told the subcommittee “they’re not following the laws and the ramification of that is that I have a dead son.” He said it was “the constitutional duty” of elected officials to protect Americans, but he has a dead son because officials are not performing their duty. Gina Wagner told the Senators that the loss of her fiancee’s son has been “completely catastrophic.” She added, “I no longer feel comfortable in my own country” and, that it is a “frightening reality that our borders are not secured.”…”


27 charged in Florida for immigration marriage fraud (continuation of previous article)

“Federal prosecutors have charged 27 people in South Florida with taking part in a marriage fraud ring aimed at bringing immigrants into the U.S. illegally. Investigators say the ringleaders charged a fee of up to several thousand dollars to the immigrants who would then take part in sham weddings. The goal was to evade U.S. immigration laws and enter into the country illegally. Authorities say the ring operated from May 2011 to February 2014. People from a wide range of countries were involved, including Argentina, Ukraine, Colombia, Moldova, Israel and Venezuela…”


Cuomo: NY is 1st state to offer English lessons by cellphone

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York will be the first state to offer English-language lessons to Spanish speakers over their mobile phones. Cuomo announced the pilot program Monday. It’s designed to help immigrants who don’t have the time or means to get traditional language lessons. The service uses audio and texts and is free – aside from typical fees for minutes and texts. A version for Spanish-language users will be introduced first in New York City, the Hudson Valley, North Country and the Finger Lakes. Other languages could follow if the initial $14,000 program is extended. The state is working on the initiative with Cell-ED, a company that got its start using cellphones to improve literacy…”


Immigration Reform 2015: Texas Republican Clash Stalls Bills In State Senate, House

“Texas’ Republican legislators remain divided on a series of immigration measures. Attempts to pass bills in both the House and Senate have met with gridlock amid a divide between hardline conservatives and its more moderate GOP members. The state’s moderate Republicans say harsh immigration crackdowns are unnecessarily divisive and could alienate Hispanic voters from the GOP, the Dallas Morning News reported. But tea party Republicans accused their compatriots of being too lenient on measures that would bolster border security. Just five weeks remain in the legislative session, so Republicans must act face to pass any policy changes. “We just don’t have the time in 140 days to deal with the big-ticket issues and also pander to a small percentage of movement conservatives,” state Rep. Jason Villalba told the Dallas Morning News. A series of Texas Senate bills that would prevent undocumented students from receiving cheaper in-state college tuition, roll back “sanctuary city” restrictions that keep police from questioning individuals they stop about their immigration status and allow authorities in neighboring states to jointly implement federal immigration measures have yet to pass. In the state House of Representatives, proposals on college tuition rates and “sanctuary cities” have met similar resistance. The infighting among state Republicans occurs as a Texas-led coalition of 26 states remains locked in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over President Barack Obama’s attempt in November to exercise executive authority to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. A federal district judge in Texas, Andrew Hanen, issued an injunction earlier this year that blocked the Obama administration from implementing its immigration plan. A federal appeals court in New Orleans has yet to decide if it will lift the injunction after an April 17 hearing on the issue.  A decision is expected by June, according to the New York Times…”


WSJ Editorial Board Takes A Sloppy Shot At Walker On Immigration

“The Wall Street Journal took its turn Saturday lashing out at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for saying immigration policy should prioritize American workers, in an editorial the big-business-oriented paper since had to correct. “Republicans used to understand this basic economic principle [more workers can mean more jobs], but the politics of immigration is turning some of them into economists for the AFL-CIO,” the board wrote in an editorial subtitled: “The Governor needs a better tutor on jobs and immigration.” Walker made a splash last week when he said in an interview with Glenn Beck that the needs of American workers should be at the forefront of immigration policy, and referred explicitly to Republican Senator and immigration hawk Jeff Sessions. Sessions advising Walker on immigration is “bad news,” TheWSJ board wrote, because Sessions is spreading the “whopper” that foreign workers are taking jobs from Americans with science, technology, engineering and math degrees…”


Scott Walker Hits Back At WSJ Attack On His Immigration Stance

“…But Walker shot back on Monday in an interview with Boston-based radio talk show host Howie Carr. “My position on immigration is simple,” Walker told Carr. Like virtually all Republican presidential hopefuls, he said that he is a proponent of securing the border. He also called for universal e-verify and no amnesty. “If you want to be a citizen, that’s a whole different thing,” Walker said. “You’ve got to go back to your country of origin and get back in line like anybody else.” He appeared to be baffled by the Journal’s jab, calling it “wrong on so many different levels.” He said his main point to Beck was that he believes that immigration policy should “make American workers and their wages [the] number one priority.” He told Carr he believes that is the right approach for not just immigration policy but for tax policy, entitlement policy, and regulations. “If we’re always thinking of the impact on hard-working Americans we’re going to be fine. If we don’t think about that then we get bad policies in America,” he said, while adding that “there are restrictions on legal immigration today that just don’t make a whole lot of sense.” Walker has struggled to clarify his stance on immigration policy. In an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace last month he said he supported a measure that is tantamount to amnesty. He said he believes “there’s a way” for an illegal immigrant to embark on a path to citizenship after paying a penalty…”


GOP candidates start a race to the bottom on immigration

“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) raised a few eyebrows last week when he sat down with Glenn Beck and embraced a new, far-right position on legal immigration. The Republican governor, a former moderate on immigration, took such an extreme position that even some GOP lawmakers in the U.S. Senate thought he’d gone too far. Maybe it was some kind of trial balloon? Perhaps Walker got ahead of himself and said something to Beck he didn’t fully mean? Apparently not. The unannounced Republican presidential hopeful sat down on Friday with the Quad City Times in Iowa, where he again expressed concerns about legal immigration to the U.S.

In an interview Friday with the Quad-City Times, Walker said it just makes sense to factor in economic conditions when deciding legal immigration levels. “A couple years ago, when the unemployment rate was at incredibly high levels and labor participation was low, why would we want to flood the market with more workers?” he asked. “So that would be a time when you would have arguably less.” … Walker did not answer directly whether he thinks immigrants are costing Americans jobs. Nor did he say, when asked, whether legal immigrants are pushing down wages in the U.S. Walker adopted a similar line talking to a group of voters in Iowa the same day, and on Saturday, the governor used his concerns about legal immigration as an applause line. After saying he expects undocumented immigrants to return to their country of origin – Walker didn’t say how that would happen, exactly – the Wisconsin Republican told a large evangelical audience, “When it comes to legal immigration, the economy should drive things. And the number one priority in that process going forward should be American workers and American wages. When times are rough, the last thing we want to do is flood the market, put more workers in at a time when workers are unemployed, wages are low. We need to make sure we put American workers first.”…”




“The Obama era has given us a very expensive lesson in how employment has a strong demand component. Unemployment rises not just because the supply of jobs has diminished, but because people aren’t looking for work as aggressively as they might be. That seems like a common-sense observation, but it has huge public policy implications. It’s an article of faith on the Left that welfare and redistribution programs have no significant negative impact on the workforce. Nearly everyone wants to work, we are told; the only reason they can’t get jobs is that greedy fat cat capitalists tuck their filthy money into treasure vaults instead of using it to hire people. The notion that welfare might make poverty worse, by providing incentives to remain poor and dependent instead of working, is anathema to our titanic social welfare state. One of the many arguments born from this belief, which we heard quite a bit of during the recent observation of the Great Society’s 50th anniversary, is that compassionate government’s core mission is to make poverty more comfortable, rather than seeing to reduce it. This was offered as the counter-argument to charges that the Great Society was a failure because poverty is at least as widespread as ever, despite trillions spent in a “war” against it. Evidence that generous welfare benefits increase dependency and erode the workforce is extremely damaging to arguments that poverty is essentially a constant, and the best we can do is try to make it more bearable. When considering a population of millions, social policy can’t be evaluated based on anecdotes or heartfelt ideological beliefs. Of course there are people on welfare, and trapped in the grim “working poor” twilight of employed dependency, who would very much like the opportunity to work hard and earn better lives for themselves. An economy shifting toward part-time work, to avoid hefty mandated costs on full-time jobs, offers fewer such opportunities; so does an economy slogging through a low-growth “recovery” that stretches on for years. Conversely, we all know there are people who prefer living on the dole to having a job. Food Stamp Nation offers stories of both outrageous abuse, and people who really need help getting the help they need. Even most hardcore welfare-state liberals would be reluctant to deny that any such people exist. The question is, are there enough potential workers choosing welfare over work to make a real, statistically significant difference… and, if so, isn’t it both immoral and counter-productive to tax working Americans to maintain such a welfare state?…”


Compromise GOP budget hikes war funds, targets ‘Obamacare’

“House and Senate GOP negotiators neared agreement Monday on a budget blueprint that would enable Republicans controlling Congress to more easily target President Barack Obama’s signature health care law while delivering an almost $40 billion budget boost to the Pentagon. The emerging plan relies on deep cuts to domestic agency budgets and safety net programs for the poor to promise a balanced budget by 2024. But it drops a controversial House proposal to radically overhaul the Medicare program. It also eliminates the option of using a fast-track budget bill to target food stamps and Pell Grants. The measure is not yet finalized, but congressional aides familiar with its outlines say it’ll likely made official Monday or Tuesday and be ratified by House and Senate votes this week. The aides required anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record while talks were still ongoing. At issue is the annual congressional budget resolution. The plan sets broad budget goals but by itself has little teeth; instead, painful follow-up legislation would be required to actually balance the budget. It also permits the GOP majority to suspend the Senate’s filibuster rule and deliver a special measure known as a reconciliation bill to Obama without the threat of Democratic opposition. Republicans plan to use the special filibuster-proof bill to wage an assault on Obama’s Affordable Care Act rather than try to impose a variety of painful cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, and other so-called mandatory programs over Obama’s opposition. Obama is sure to veto any attempt to repeal the health law, too, but Republicans want to deliver such a measure to Obama anyway. The GOP plan is generally similar to cuts proposed by former Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., — whose budget was largely endorsed by Mitt Romney as the duo formed the GOP presidential ticket in 2012 — with one significant difference. This year’s compromise drops Ryan’s plan to change Medicare into a voucher-like program for retirees joining the program in 2024…”


Republicans close in on budget deal

“House and Senate Republicans are closing in on a budget deal, signaling confidence that they can muscle a joint blueprint through Congress for the first time in a decade. Negotiators are expected to release the agreement as early as Monday night, according to congressional aides, with GOP leaders planning to hold votes on the resolution by the end of the week. Aides say the final resolution will drop the House’s plan to transition part of Medicare into a premium-support program by 2024. Senate Republicans facing reelection in 2016 had balked at that proposal, viewing it as politically risky. For fiscal 2016, which will start on Oct. 1, Republicans have made clear that they want to stick to the $1.017 trillion discretionary budget cap set by a 2011 law. The sequestration ceiling limits the Pentagon to $523 billion in spending next year, while capping non-defense domestic programs at $493 billion. To circumvent the Pentagon’s cap, Republicans plan to include a provision in the budget deal that hikes a war fund to about $96 billion, aides said. Defense hawks in the House won the extra war funding last month, beating back objections from fiscal hawks who complained it would increase the deficit by roughly $20 billion. Republicans also plan to use a budget procedure known as reconciliation to send a repeal of ObamaCare to President Obama’s desk, aides said. Once authorizing committees produce deficit-cutting bills and conference them with the other chamber, the tool only requires a majority vote in the Senate. The ObamaCare plan could change, however, if the Supreme Court rules in June against the Obama administration in the King v. Burwell case. A ruling against the administration could take away subsidies from people in 37 states, many of them led by GOP governors, that help cover the cost of ObamaCare on state-based health exchanges. Aides confirmed Republicans don’t plan to use the reconciliation process to cut Pell Grants or food stamps. House GOP leaders have expressed a desire for flexibility in the reconciliation process. While budget negotiators might provide policy recommendations to accompany reconciliation instructions, those policy changes will be left up to authorizing committees this summer. The Associated Press was the first to report some of the budget details. Reconciliation was a major hurdle for GOP negotiators because the separate House and Senate budgets adopted in March contained very different approaches. While the House budget issued reconciliation instructions to 13 different authorizing committees, the Senate’s blueprint issued them only to two that have jurisdiction over healthcare. The release of the deal will come about a month after the original blueprints were adopted, and just a few days before the House is set to vote on the first two 2016 spending bills…”


House panel unveils $611B defense policy bill

“House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) unveiled a 2016 defense policy bill on Monday that equals the Obama administration’s request, but rejects many of its proposals. The bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), authorizes $515 billion in spending for national defense and an additional $89.2 billion for war funding, for a total of $604.2 billion. The base defense spending, the war funding and $7.7 billion for the State Department would be equivalent to the president’s total request of $611.9 billion in defense discretionary spending. However, the committee’s proposal differs in that the president’s request called for overturning defense budget caps under sequestration, allowing for more in the base budget and less in the war-funding account. However, this year, lawmakers on the Budget committees opted to adhere to sequestration, but add money to the war funding account, which is also known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account. Of the total $89.2 billion in war funding, $38.3 billion would go towards activities normally supported in the Pentagon’s base budget. The president has threatened to veto a bill that does not include the overturning of sequestration, but it is not clear whether he will do so, since the totals equate to his request. The panel’s bill rejected the Pentagon’s proposal to retire the A-10 attack jet aircraft. Instead, the bill provides $682.7 million for the aircraft and modified a provision in last year’s bill to allow not more than 18 A-10s to be placed into “backup flying status” — down from 36 A-10s allowed in 2015. The bill also rejected the Pentagon’s proposal to authorize a new round of base closures under the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process. It also provides a 2.3 percent pay raise for troops, over the Pentagon’s proposed 1 percent pay raise. The bill would also reform the military’s retirement system to go from only benefitting troops who serve at least 20 years to also benefitting those who serve at least two, beginning in 2017. It also includes steps to reform the Pentagon’s unwieldy acquisition system. “This year’s NDAA will begin a process of much needed reform to the Department of Defense,” Thornberry said in a statement. “These reforms are designed to recruit and retain America’s best and brightest, ensure that our forces maintain their technological edge, and to balance resources from the ‘tail’ to the ‘tooth’ of the force.” “Our country has never before faced the spectrum of varied and serious threats to our security that we face today. Beginning to make these reforms, and seeing the reform process through in the future, is vital if we are to overcome these challenges,” he said…”


GOP defense budget challenges Obama on Ukraine, Guantanamo

“The GOP chairman of the House Armed Service Committee on Monday recommended a $604 billion defense budget for 2016 that challenges the White House because it includes lethal weapons for Ukraine, makes it harder for the president to empty the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and restores funding for the A-10 fleet. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, released his so-called chairman’s mark for the National Defense Authorization Act. On Wednesday, his committee will debate the proposal, which he claims also works to add more flexibility and accountability into the defense acquisition process. “These reforms are designed to recruit and retain America’s best and brightest, ensure that our forces maintain their technological edge, and to balance resources from the tail to the tooth of the force,” Thornberry said. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the defense bill historically has been a place where Congress can put its imprint on national security policy, yet it also provides an opportunity for politicians to engage in parochial politics. “For example, the majority is attempting to further its perilous policy of allowing the excessively expensive detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to persist. This is a political position driving bad policy,” Smith said. Smith said the budget proposal includes a ban on U.S. military base closures, forcing the Pentagon to maintain facilities it does not need or want. Smith also lamented a provision that he said “micromanages the Navy’s ability to manage its modernization as it relates to a number of cruisers.” On the other hand, Smith applauded the support for U.S. efforts in Iraq and Syria and a bipartisan effort to address defense acquisition reform. “To be clear, there are positive provisions in this bill, but we have got to make some changes if we are going to get a bill that the president will sign.” The proposal authorizes $515 billion in spending for national defense and another $89.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations for a total of $604.2 billion. Another $7.7 billion is mandatory defense spending that doesn’t get authorized by Congress…”


Why Do We Have A Death Tax?

“Not all taxation is theft. But one tax that comes about as close as possible to being theft is the estate tax. After all, dead people aren’t getting any more services from government. I suppose there are a few people who are buried in pauper’s graves at county expense. But those are not the ones whose estates are being confiscated. I have never understood the logic behind seizing a part of the estates of the recently departed. If there is a valid argument for doing so, why doesn’t it apply with equal force to the estates of the living? The House of Representatives voted by a large margin the other today to abolish the estate tax. In doing so they took a very popular step. Yet although the estate tax is one of the most hated taxes by the general public, it has long been a favorite of government. Kelly Phillips Erb reminds us that the first federal estate tax was imposed in 1797 to help fund a war against France. It was resurrected again in the Civil War, then in the Spanish-American War and it became a more or less a permanent fixture with the advent of World War I. War and estate taxation seem to go hand in hand. By the way, it’s not just the federal government. For an interactive map showing states that impose estate and inheritance taxes, see Where Not To Die In 2015. I suspect the reason governments like the tax is that estates don’t have very powerful protectors and defenders. If the government tried to seize estates from the living, the owners would certainly resist. But after death, ownership tends to be dispersed and in many cases unresolved. So estates are a relatively easy target for the tax collectors…”


Obama Makes The Case For TPP: If We Don’t Write The Rules, China Will

“PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If we don’t write the rules, China will write the rules in that region, we will be shut out, American businesses, agriculture, that will mean a loss of U.S. jobs.”

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