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Tags: Barack Obama

Chuck Schumer: Obamacare Was a Mistake, But Only In the Timing!



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From the Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Chuck Schumer: Obamacare Was a Mistake, But Only In the Timing!

Let’s take a story like this and figure out what the real angle is:

Sen. Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010.

While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies “are and will continue to be positive changes,” he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.

There’s some truth to Schumer’s theory, of course. Obamacare never polled well.  Deep-rooted national economic anxiety exploded in late 2008 and never dissipated completely.

Remember that thing called “the stimulus”? Schumer’s theory of “How It All Went Wrong” requires us to think the stimulus was a success, and Obamacare was a success, and that the problem for the Democrats was just the order of things:

“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them,” Schumer said. “We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform.”

If Americans continue to feel such widespread, deep-rooted economic anxiety, just how much of a success was that “partial success” of the stimulus?

Most Democrats – following the lead of their president – passed the stimulus and believed they had fixed the economy. Do not forget this anecdote from New York magazine, November 29, 2009:

But the most damaging consequence of all may have been inside the White House, where bullishness about how rapidly the stimulus would kick in led to foolish projections that unemployment would peak at 8 percent—and where the bill’s passage bred a certain cockiness and complacency about the need to drive a sustained economic message in the months thereafter. “I recently talked to a very senior friend of mine in the White House, and I said, ‘How did we not spend a year talking about the economy?’ ” a Democratic think-tank maven recalls. “And he said, ‘Look, I think Barack did the stimulus and he thought he checked the box and he moved on.’ I said, ‘That’s not governing, dude. That’s some other thing.’ ”

The ailments of the American economy are too big, interconnected, and complicated for any one giant Keynesian spending spree to fix –  particularly one that that ends up as the usual crony-capitalist, special-interest giveaway. Do enough of our workers really have the skills to compete against foreign competition? How can we expect wages to increase when we’re importing workers – particularly low-skilled and unskilled workers – from other countries? Are great ideas being born in some big dreamer’s garage? Haven’t underwater mortgages made it harder for workers to move to areas of the country with job growth? Are our universities churning out too many sociology majors and not enough engineers? Aren’t too many schools at every level failing to prepare students for the workforce?

Schumer needs an explanation for two consecutive blowout losses in the midterms that indicate Democrats have a difficult time winning without Obama’s personality on the ballot. He’s in the right neighborhood, by recognizing that economic fears are still strong, but he can’t quite bring himself to acknowledge that neither the stimulus nor Obamacare lived up to the hype for the average American.

Tags: Chuck Schumer , Barack Obama , Obamacare , Stimulus

The Brutal Truth: As Obama Goes, So Go the Democrats



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John Dickerson, attempting to get Democrats, and Hillary Clinton, to acknowledge the obvious:

Each Democratic candidate who hopes to have a chance will run supporting Obama’s positions on health care, immigration, and climate change. Given those positions on the big things, any move to distance themselves from Obama will seem puny by comparison. In newsrooms, editors will monitor the micrometers between the faintest policy differences, and they will shout emergency orders to make a big deal about it. But despite all the talk about distancing, candidates will learn what Democratic senators up for re-election learned this fall: Resistance is futile. If there is a D next to your name, you can’t really get that far from the president. Over the next two years, if you could capture the relative political distance between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Hyperlapse, it would look like two figures standing in place with a blast from the flash cameras every time one or the other made the smallest wiggle but retaining their essential original posture.

Democrats can’t escape Obama any more than McCain could escape Bush. Running for a metaphorical “third term” is hard, even during a time of relative peace and prosperity. It worked for George H. W. Bush but didn’t work for Al Gore.

How likely is it that the autumn of 2016 seems like a time of peace and prosperity? How likely is it that when Election Day 2016 rolls around, a majority of Americans like the job Obama is doing?

Headwinds.

Tags: Barack Obama , Democrats , Hillary Clinton

The Democrats’ Giant Bet on Voters’ Short Memories



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The Democrats’ Giant Bet on Voters’ Short Memories

The Democrats’ plan: Hope that Latino voters love the the executive order quasi-amnesty and “middle-of-the-road” voters forget about it:

The president’s decision to use his executive powers to protect some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation is bound to draw a backlash from middle-of-the-road white voters. Republicans assailed Obama’s handling of immigration in the midterm elections, catering to a conservative and notably less diverse electorate with ads in states such as Arkansas and New Hampshire. Early polling shows significant suspicion of Obama’s unilateral action: An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 48 percent of Americans preemptively opposed to the executive actions, versus 38 percent ready to endorse them.

As a political matter, then, the president’s wager is this: that the voters with the longest memories will be those in the rapidly-growing, next-generation national electorate, heavily inflected by socially progressive young people and a growing Latino population.

Will those middle-of-the-road white voters forget? Note the concession by Politico that one doesn’t have to be an “extreme” “right-wing” “xenophobic” voter to object to this policy.

Mo Elleithee, the Democratic National Committee’s communications director, vowed that the GOP would pay a price for its heated attacks on the White House’s policy: “The rhetoric coming out will come back to haunt them. We are capturing every bit and will make them answer for it. They are not just alienating, they are offending, the [Hispanic] community.”

Republicans believe that Obama is inviting deep punishment with his actions this week. Not only does the GOP sense genuine anger among voters about the ongoing mess on the border, but party leaders say that Obama’s orders will look like pure arrogance, the brazen actions of a discredited president.

Though the GOP has struggled to assemble a viable, diverse coalition in national elections, the party is on a hot streak in large, traditionally Democratic states across the Midwest – big, blue-collar battlegrounds like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, where a certain segment of Democratic-leaning, populist white voters may recoil from what they perceive as overreach on the border.

How confident are they that union members and African Americans will be such long-term fans of this plan? How certain can the administration be that these 3.7 million adult newly not-so-illegal immigrants will find jobs?

A few other points to throw in here. Obama promises:

So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation.

How many illegal immigrants will be able to get the documents they’ll need to make their case about length of time in the United States, or ties to family in the United States? How many are literally “undocumented” and came here with the shirts on their backs, or lost their documents during their journeys or life in the U.S.?

For those immigrants who qualify, Salas said it will be important for them to begin securing original copies of documents that will prove how long they have been in this country as well as establish legal family ties that may be important to their case. They may need to go to the consulate of their country of origin, or to their school districts or places of former residence to obtain proof.

Supporting evidence that may be required include birth certificates, family and adoption records, legal guardianship records, school records, passports and other official documents, Salas says.

They may need to prove continuous residency over a period of years, which can be established with pay stubs, utility bills, rental agreements or other ordinary records.

Yes, this decision occurs in the context of the rebuke to the president in the midterms. But this also comes after the president’s promises have been proven to be worthless — if you like your plan you can keep your plan, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, your premiums will go down, the “red line” in Syria, al-Qaeda is “decimated” and ISIS is the “jayvee team”, and so on. (Michael Graham identifies some of Obama’s “if you like your plan” moments in last night’s speech.)

How many illegal immigrants want to come out of the shadows and identify themselves to law enforcement based upon this promise?

Then the question of unforeseen complications arises. After the stimulus, Obamacare, our alleged breakthrough with Iran, our coalition against ISIS and so on, we see a pattern with this administration dealing with complicated problems with an even more complicated solutions. These solutions rarely proceed exactly as planned, and the administration seems blindsided by the surprise complications and problems. They set up the executive-order DREAM Act, then are surprised by droves of unattended children crossing the border. They pass Dodd-Frank; we learn in June, “regulators still haven’t completed key parts, including standards for the mortgage-securities market and tougher regulations for credit-rating firms,” four years after passage. They make grand promises about taking care of veterans and then are shocked to learn about widespread hidden delays and unreported problems. We pledge a few months of “advise and assist” to the Iraqi army, hoping that will change the equation in the fight against ISIS.

What’s going to be the unforeseen consequence of this decision?

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama , amnesty

Hillary Clinton’s Deafening Silence on Obama’s Immigration Executive Order



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Boy, Hillary Clinton has been quiet since the midterms, huh?

Hillary’s past comments on illegal immigration indicate that she is the champion of spectacularly generic comments:

Hillary Rodham Clinton had just finished telling the crowd that North Carolina families could count on Senator Kay Hagan when the chants of Oliver Merino — a 25-year-old whose mother, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, faces deportation — grew louder. He held a sign that read, “Hillary, do you stand with our immigrant families?” and shouted that his mother lives in constant fear of deportation. “I have to say that I understand immigration is an important issue, and we appreciate that,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We thank you for your advocacy.”

Earlier this year, in a “town hall” on CNN, hosted by Christiane Amanpour, Hillary Clinton boldly staked out a position opposing child abandonment as a consequence of deportation policy. On immigration, she pronounced:

The horror of a father or a mother going to work and being picked up and immediately whisked away and children coming home from school to an empty house and nobody can say where their mother or father is, that is just not who we are as Americans.

Her hesitation may be driven by the fact that her spectacular collapse from her position of heavy favorite in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary was triggered in part by her sudden reversal in her position supporting giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. She said the policy proposed by then-governor of New York Eliot Spitzer to give illegal immigrants licenses “made a lot of sense,” and then said, moments later, “I did not say that I thought it should be done.”

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton issued a supportive statement last night.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

What if Employers Don’t Want to Hire the 5 Million Illegal Immigrants?



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Hugh Hewitt offers an unexpected argument: The quasi-amnesty the president offers tonight may actually make it tougher for illegal immigrants to find jobs:

The people in the country illegally will know shortly that this stunt tonight does not help them and may in fact hurt them — badly. The collision of what is in essence a letter of recommendation from the president to employers with their genuine worries about liabilities under state law and about their fiduciary duties to their customers is going to be instant, and not to the good of the illegal population. Employers are going to flee the president’s testimonial that, if he were king of the forest, not queen, not duke, not earl, he’d let this person have a green card. Because he’s not king, he cannot bless this person’s employment in the real world of tort liability and state law. He cannot solve the issue of Social Security and unemployment insurance withholding. What he can [do] — and will do tonight — is mark the illegal as someone not worth the trouble of hiring.

The president simply cannot bestow a green card. Just a blessing. An Obama blessing. The blessing of a cheater.

The president’s lawless act will have the apparently contradictory impact of both making life harder for “those in the shadows” by increasing the reluctance of employers to hire the obviously illegal, while at the same time attracting millions more north across the fenceless border. Employers are simply going to be less willing to hire the obviously illegal because of a host of other laws the president cannot change.

Separately, we have to wonder how much of an illegal immigrant’s value to a unscrupulous employer comes from their inability to go to government authorities and complain about mistreatment or unjust employment contracts. They are also much less likely to ever make workman’s-compensation claims, take their entitled meal breaks, or complain about illegal deductions from their pay for work-related tools or materials or transportation, harassment, and other violation of workplace laws.

This 2008 survey found that 37 percent of illegal immigrants were paid wages that violated minimum-wage law; nearly 85 percent of illegal immigrants were not paid the legally required overtime rate by their employers.

Giving a worker this new quasi-legal status also gives them the incentive to complain about low wages, employer mistreatment, and so on. An illegal immigrant who comes forward to take the quasi-amnesty may find himself no longer wanted at his old employer, while the boss keeps using his buddy who didn’t take the quasi-amnesty.

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

Obama to Unilaterally Rewrite Immigration Policy With 38 Percent Support



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From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Obama to Announce Plan to Vastly Expand National Pool of Legal Low-Skilled Labor

John Boehner’s office collected 22 times President Obama said he couldn’t ignore Congress and/or create his own immigration law. A couple of the most glaring and sweeping declarations:

“I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with [the president] trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.” (3/31/08)

“I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books. . . . Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.” (7/25/11)

That one’s particularly vivid, because President Obama appears to tee up his own impeachment, declaring that changing the laws on his own violates the Constitution and would represent a high crime or misdemeanor. Of course, Obama would welcome that; he could play the victim, it would awaken and stir a depressed Democratic base, and there’s just no way the two-thirds of the Senate would vote to remove President Obama from office. If, as you suspect, President Obama wants Republicans to try to impeach him, this raises the disturbing prospect that the next two years will feature Obama attempting to provoke an impeachment fight by committing more and more acts that violate the Constitution.

“This is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency. The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed. And Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system. And what that means is that we have certain obligations to enforce the laws that are in place even if we think that in many cases the results may be tragic.” (2/14/13)

In light of this, it is not the least bit outrageous for critics of Obama to accuse him of acting like an emperor.

Plus, you know, he’s starting to walk around in black robes with an ominous John Williams score behind him.

The Oval Office remodeling is finished.

Moving along . . . 

What I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. What I’ve done is to use my prosecutorial discretion, because you can’t enforce the laws across the board for 11 or 12 million people, there aren’t the resources there. What we’ve said is focus on folks who are engaged in criminal activity, focus on people who are engaged in gang activity. Do not focus on young people, who we’re calling DREAMers. . . . That already stretched my administrative capacity very far. But I was confident that that was the right thing to do. But at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, ‘You have to enforce these laws.’ They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing. And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books. (3/16/14)

Paraphrasing something Jonah said on the cruise, the motto of progressives when it comes to political power is that they always run for daylight — whatever avenue to enacting their desired policies is the proper one. If they can get what they want through a referendum, they’ll tout that as the most natural expression of the popular will. If they can get what they want through legislation, they’ll do it legislatively. If they can get what they want through a president’s executive orders, they’ll do it that way. If all of those avenues are blocked, they’ll try to do it through the courts. If none of those work, they’ll do it through bureaucratic regulations.

The silver lining: All of this can be undone by an executive order from the next president. And just as the White House seemed to have no idea of the kind of Republican wave they would experience in the midterms, they are walking around with way too much confidence about the popularity of this move:

Forty-eight percent oppose Obama taking executive action on immigration — which could come as soon as later this week — while 38 percent support it; another 14 percent have no opinion or are unsure.

This decision will get less popular after dominating a news cycle.

If this were really a good idea, Obama would have done it before the election. He knows this is going to invite a backlash, which is why he had to wait.

Republicans an issue that we can use to drive a wedge right down the middle of the Democratic coalition — liberals on one side, unions and African-Americans on the other. While some Republicans want a path to citizenship and some don’t, just about everybody on the Right loathes the idea of the president doing this by fiat. They have a ready-made argument, that President Obama and his allies took action to make life easier for illegal immigrants, while they make life harder for you.

Also note this detail in NBC News poll:

A majority of Americans (56 percent) want Congress to take the lead role in setting policy for the country, versus those who prefer President Obama to do so (33 percent).

. . . 39 percent support creating legal status for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally…

That’s not likely voters, that’s not registered voters; that’s respondents.

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration

Casual Attire for a Casual Ending of the Separation of Powers



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If you want to stretch the powers of the presidency beyond all recognition, to insist “prosecutorial discretion” now means not enforcing the law for millions of people who violated the law by entering the country illegally, and to claim unilateral power to change the makeup of American society in the face of stiff public and congressional opposition . . . at least wear a suit jacket, right? This is a special occasion.

 

Tags: Barack Obama

Obama Staffer: Before Jarrett, Our Campaign Ignored Minority Staffers



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Joshua DuBois, former head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under President Obama, writes in the Daily Beast that Valerie Jarrett “saved the Obama campaign” and is “indispensable.” He paints an ugly picture of Obama’s presidential campaign before her arrival:

Our young, diverse campaign staff didn’t always feel heard by the powers that be. There were strategic recommendations, views on where the candidate should go, and political intelligence among these lower and middle ranks of staffers, but few places to send them. This resulted in missed opportunities, depressed morale — and declining poll numbers in states where the support of young people, African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities was key.

That’s when Valerie stepped in. She had functionally been a volunteer and an occasional advisor up to that point, but after the Lewis disaster it was clear she needed to take a larger role. So she more formally joined the ranks of the campaign’s senior leadership. And as soon as she became a regular presence at our Michigan Avenue headquarters, things started to change.

Young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers felt like they had a listening ear and advocate in the upper tiers of the campaign — at times after making a quiet trip to Valerie’s office . . . 

Valerie brought a level of empathy and spirit to the hardened machinery of elections that we sorely needed in order to match our hopeful rhetoric with the reality of the campaign. Perhaps more importantly, she protected and elevated causes and voices — diverse voices — that would have otherwise never been heard.

Does he realize what he’s saying? That without the presence of Valerie Jarrett, the Barack Obama for President campaign would have excluded, ignored, or taken for granted young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers and, by extension, voters with the same characteristics? That the only thing that kept the black, relatively young candidate in touch with these staffers, and treating them with appropriate respect and appreciation was Jarrett?

How do you feel about that characterization, David Axelrod? How about you, Robert Gibbs? David Plouffe? Penny Pritzker? Jon Favreau?

Tags: Valerie Jarrett , Barack Obama , David Axelrod

Obama on Unilateral Amnesty in 2011: ‘That’s Not How Our Democracy Functions. That’s Not How Our Constitution Is Written.’



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President Obama, speaking to the National Council of La Raza, July 25, 2011:

Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. (Applause.) And believe me, right now dealing with Congress –

AUDIENCE: Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can!

THE PRESIDENT: Believe me — believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. (Laughter.) I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. (Laughter.) But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Change it!

THE PRESIDENT: That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.

When did unilateral executive action become “how our system works” or “how our democracy functions”? When was the Constitution rewritten?

Tags: Barack Obama , Illegal Immigration , Immigration Reform

The Coming Cries About GOP ‘Disrespect for the Presidency’



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

The Coming Cries About Republican ‘Disrespect for the Presidency’

This is a DSCC ad for Sen. Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, airing on KZBE, an Urban Adult Contemporary radio station based in Berwick, Louisiana:

Have you heard the crazy stuff that Bill Cassidy, Bobby Jindal and the Republicans are always saying about President Barack Obama? They have shown our president so much disrespect — from playing the race card in commercials, talking about trying to impeach him, to lying about the progress the country has made under his leadership.

Do your remember when the stock market was at an all-time low under the Republican-led administration?

Now the stock market has more than doubled under President Obama, but they lie, saying the economy is horrible. Do you remember how bad the unemployment numbers were under Republicans? Now unemployment is lower than it as been in fourteen years. More lies by the Republicans. The president needs you to have his back, now more than ever.

Now, even by the standards of dishonest campaign ads, some of these claims are astounding. For example, you can indisputably declare the stock market hit hard times during the Great Recession – the closing low of 6,547.05 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average on March 9, 2009, represented a 54 percent drop in 17 months. But that’s not the same as “an all-time low.” It wasn’t even the all-time steepest drop; the Dow fell 90 percent during the Great Depression.

The claim that “unemployment is lower than it has been in fourteen years” is just flat wrong. The current 5.8 percent unemployment rate – driven heavily by the declining workforce participation rate – is the lowest since July 2008.

But what really jumps out is the declaration, “They have shown our president so much disrespect.” The allegation of “playing the race card in commercials” is pretty laughable considering the Democrats’ incendiary tactics this past cycle; the objection to minor GOP figures “talking about trying to impeach him,” is interesting considering parallel Democratic talk of impeaching Bush; and the “lying about the progress the country has made under his leadership” is, as shown above, false based upon the erroneous criteria they cite. But what’s more, why would an argument about the “progress” or lack thereof under a president be inherently disrespectful? This is redefining “respect” to require “agreement.”

Watch for this maneuver more in the coming months. Barack Obama has lost the Democratic control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Democrats in both chambers are less likely to go along with Obama after these awful midterms. He’s lost the public’s trust. The media is more critical than it used to be (if not as critical as conservatives wish).  Many of his policies are flopping. Attention is shifting to Hillary. Accusing opponents of racism, greed, and xenophobia flopped as a tactic in the midterm elections.

What does he have left? The presidency.

Expect to see a lot more charges that “Republicans aren’t showing respect for the presidency” in these final years. The question is whether anyone will notice that the allegedly disrespected president shows no respect for the Constitutionally-mandated role of Congress.

This is not a new maneuver, of course:

Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis said she was “silenced” by CNBC when management told her she was “disrespecting the office of the president” by reporting about Obamacare.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mary Landrieu

A Lengthy Debate Is Useless If It Isn’t Honest.



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President Obama, yesterday:

The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run.

We had a year-long debate, Ed. I mean, go back and look at your stories.The one thing we can’t say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about health care in the United States of America, or that it was not adequately covered.

As the Washington Post notes, “Gruber is well-known in health-care circles as one of the intellectual godfathers of Obamacare and the very similar law in Massachusetts (sometimes called Romneycare)”, and was paid $400,000 by the Department of Health and Human Services. So Obama hides behind the fact that Gruber was a contractor; what’s more, if Gruber were not a central figure in the creation of Obamacare, why is he speaking at all of these health care industry conferences?

Obama insists the debate about Obamacare was “lengthy,” which is not the same as saying it was honest. In fact, that’s the point of Gruber’s controversial comment — that all of that lengthy debate included writing the bill ”in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes” in order to ensure that lengthy debate wasn’t an honest debate — because they knew they would lose an honest debate! “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay. So it was written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in — if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in sick people get money it would not have passed. Okay.”

The Gruber/Obama philosophy is to lie to ensure that no one knows what is actually going to be enacted into law; thus the amount of time spent debating is moot. As he put it so bluntly, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical in getting the thing to pass.”

It is not exculpatory to insist you spent a whole year lying to us.

Tags: Barack Obama

Obama Is Now Washington’s Most Powerful Obstructionist.



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In light of overwhelming public opinion like this opposing Obamacare, doesn’t President Obama seem… obstructionist?

Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama’s pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn’t change after the ACA was passed.

The current 37% [approval] comes on the heels of last week’s midterm elections, in which Republicans won full control of both houses of Congress. Already, party leaders are discussing efforts to repeal the unpopular law.

Repeal is highly unlikely, given Obama’s veto power, but the law’s new low in approval — and new high in disapproval (56%) — could potentially have an impact on its future. The president himself has acknowledged he will consider modifications to the law, which could include repealing the tax on medical devices.

Here’s the Republican Party, promising to pass legislation reflecting the will of the people, and one extremist is blocking enactment of the popular will. Isn’t this an “unyielding consistency and a complete disconnect with the wishes of all except the most vocal part of their base that enforces extremism”, as was claimed about Republicans?

Isn’t the refusal to go along with the majority on Obamacare, or threatening to veto the Keystone Pipeline, or an executive branch effort to regulate the Internet without legislation, or an insistence upon an unpopular deal with Iran a form of ”sabotage governing“? Doesn’t it amount to “a refusal to govern“? Isn’t this “doubling-down on opposition, and refusing to budge“?

Of course, of course, it’s different when he does it.

President No.

Tags: Obamacare , Barack Obama , Keystone Pipeline , Iran

Joe Wilson’s ‘YOU LIE!’ Wasn’t Wrong. It Was Prescient.



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President Obama, back in September 2009: “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.: “YOU LIE!”

Fact-checkers: How terrible Wilson shouted this! “Obama can make a pretty thorough case that reform doesn’t apply to those here illegally.”

Fast-forward to 2014, and lo and behold, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell “called for extending Obamacare benefits to DREAM-eligible illegal immigrants.”

Burwell was speaking on a public Google hangout with prominent Latina bloggers to promote Saturday’s opening of the Obamacare enrollment period when she shifted to her thoughts on immigration reform.

“DREAMers are not able to be covered in the marketplace. And this is an issue that I think is more than a health care issue — it is an immigration issue,” Burwell said in response to a question about whether families with mixed immigration statuses can get coverage.

“And I think everyone probably knows that this administration feels incredibly strongly about the fact that we need to fix that. We need to reform the system and make the changes that we need that will lead to benefits in everything from health care to economics to so many things — a very important step that we need to take as a nation.”

Only legal immigrants are eligible for Obamacare benefits, but liberal and pro-immigration groups have asked that Obamacare benefits be extended to illegal immigrants as well. Several groups have also advocated for the Obama administration to mandate Obamacare exchange eligibility for DREAMers, a term used to describe  illegal immigrants who are granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.

Wilson wasn’t wrong. He was prescient.

Tags: Joe Wilson , Barack Obama , Obamacare , Illegal Immigration

For Simplicity’s Sake, Pledge to Impeach



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In my most recent post (scroll below) I indicated why the using the power of the purse to respond to Obama doing the Big Amnesty executive order would likely be inadequate and confusing.

Back on August first, when Obama began floating his patently unconstitutional, utterly anti-democratic, and deeply polarizing plan, I wrote a piece here called “The Case for Formally Threatening Obama with Impeachment Right Now.”  If you’re going to object to this post in the comments, you may want to read that first, as it provides the full, objection-anticipating, case.  There I laid out the language a formal pledge would employ, in promising to impeach Obama if he does the Big Amnesty order.  There I also provided links to previous impeachment-blogging I had done (on the First Things channel) last December, one of which showed that there is no textual barrier, either in the Constitution or in The Federalist Papers, to impeaching Obama. 

What I envision now would be the Republicans calling for a party meeting and caucus of all Republican House members and all such Representatives-elect, for a one-day debate about, and public vote concerning, such a pledge.  ASAP.

The rationale would be this:  a) if Obama thought he would go down as only one of three presidents to be impeached (we’ll never have the votes in the Senate to convict) that might deter him from doing it, and b) if he goes ahead and does it, it will go down in the record books that the House, and perhaps 55% of the Senate, officially judged it unconstitutional. 

I am not saying this would be the only tool to employ.  The GOP could pursue legal angles, could make Big Amnesty part of a bundle of issues that provokes a money cut-off, and could organize mass protests.  We must want our “Sheriff” to show up to this constitutional crisis not just fingering a single billy-club, but also have a couple guns and plenty of ammo visible on his person.

Nor am I saying that the threatened Big Amnesty is the only aspect of presidential behavior unacceptable, illegal, debatably unconstitutional, and patently unconstitutional that Congress will need to act against.  Several scandals remain to be investigated, for one.  What a pledge would do is to highlight for the public how particularly heinous, constitution-wise, the Big Amnesty plan is.  It would single it out from other violations and disputes, and push the public to consider its opinion on the matter. 

Were a caucus-meeting gathered, obviously we would get polls about how the public feels.  If the immediate opposition to the idea in those polls was overwhelming, the delegates to the meeting could vote the pledge down.  Similarly, if over the period of time between the pledge and the initiation—assuming Obama goes ahead—of actual impeachment proceedings, the public voiced overwhelming opposition, that could be grounds for any representative voting against impeachment.  The pledge would only be to initiate the official process, not to vote one way or the other. 

To keep saying that the public isn’t ready, so don’t propose impeachment, is to never try to ready them.  I said as loudly as I could that it would be wrong for the GOP to pretend to disavow all recourse to it prior to the elections.  I was roundly ignored.  Charles Krauthammer and others announced that any talk of impeachment was insane.  Well, now the elections are won.  So it’s time for Republican representatives to talk honestly about the fact that probably majorities of those who voted for them want impeachment talk, although sure, doing so now is a bit more awkward than it needed to be.

But it is going to keep getting more awkward the longer it is put off.  If Obama gets away with Big Amnesty, with only drawn-out and confusing responses via budget process and legal challenges as the price, he will surely keep issuing unconstitutional orders.  When, oh sage Republican strategists, will it finally become acceptable to threaten impeachment?  If we stomach the four or so obvious violations he has committed so far, mostly to tinker with Obamacare rules, and then Big Amnesty on top of that, will it be at three more?  Ten?  Twenty?  In the summer of 2015?  The winter?  During the heart of the 2016 campaign? 

Simplicity, ladies and gentlemen.  It is what is the most democratic, the most Constitution-following, and compared to all the complex talk of budget-process and close-door bargains, it is indeed a joy.  “This would be a vile sin against the Constitution, and here is the remedy the Constitution itself provides against such.  We pledge, if the president does Big Amnesty, to use that remedy.  If he does it, there will be impeachment proceedings.  Period.”

Say it, and let the people judge.

Tags: Big Amnesty , Constitution , Barack Obama , Impeachment

Obama’s Iffy ‘Worst States Since Eisenhower’ Excuse



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Over in the Corner, our Brendan Bordelon reports that President Obama appears to be preparing his party for the worst, declaring that “in this election cycle this is probably the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower.”

Eh, not really, Mr. President.

Yes, it’s a tough break for Democrats that they had to deal with retirements in three states that voted against Obama twice – Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. But they thought they had a decent shot at Montana this cycle with appointed senator John Walsh — until he ended his election bid after his plagiarism scandal. Democrats told themselves they had a shot in South Dakota’s three-way race, too, but that was mostly a blip in the polls.

Yes, there are vulnerable incumbent Democrats in states Obama lost twice: Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. But Landrieu has survived runoffs before.

But several of the GOP’s most important pickup opportunities are in states that Obama won twice: Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Virginia. North Carolina is a split state that Obama won in 2008 and lost in 2012.

Obama can gripe that no blue-state Republicans retired, creating golden opportunities for a Democratic pickup, but this is largely because because in 2008, almost every blue-state Republican was wiped out in the Obama wave, other than Susan Collins.

Tags: Barack Obama

A Lame-Duck Presidency, No Strings Attached



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Phil Klein, today, contemplating President Obama’s approach to governing after the midterm elections:

If there were anything holding [President Obama] back up to this point, it was either that he was facing re-election or he was somewhat hesitant to weaken Democratic chances in an election year that would determine the composition of Congress during his last two years in office. . . . A wounded Obama will still have many tools at his disposal for advancing his agenda, with much less reason to avoid deploying them.

To further emphasize this point, Campaign Spot has obtained video of President Obama rehearsing his post-election address to the nation:

Tags: Barack Obama

In Obama’s America, Sushi Costs $16,000



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They say inflation is too low. They say the country is not actually run by jackasses who think twenty dollars isn’t a lot of money. They say Republicans are plutocrats. But how’s this for a dinner date?

“A DNC official send along this detail: On Tuesday, October 28, President Obama will attend a DNC roundtable discussion in Milwaukee, WI with approximately 25 supporters. Tickets start at $16,200.”

The president is dining with a donor roundtable in downtown Brew City. That’s pretty expensive sushi, is all I’m saying.

Tags: Barack Obama , Inflation

Ouch: BusinessWeek Calls Obama ‘Too Cool for Crisis Management’



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That is a heck of a cover image/gif, Bloomberg BusinessWeek. And probably about as bad an image as the Democrats could imagine, short of “VOTE GOP” in giant letters.

Inside, the headline to Joshua Green’s piece is, “Obama Is Too Cool for Crisis Management.”

Tags: Barack Obama

The Simple Closing Message: Americans Deserve Better Than This



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Recent events tied a bow around a simple, powerful, and true closing message for Republicans running for Congress this year: The American people deserve to be treated better than the way their government treats them.

People who like their doctors and health insurance deserve to keep them. Our veterans deserve care in a timely manner. The American people deserve the truth about illegal immigrants released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They deserve straight answers from the Centers for Disease Control, and when a promise is made, it should be kept. Americans deserve a secure border, and when there is overwhelming support for restricting flights from countries with severe Ebola outbreaks, the option deserves careful consideration, not arrogant dismissal.

Americans of all political stripes deserve to be treated equally in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, with no special targeting based upon political views. Our ambassadors and those serving our country overseas deserve protection when they ask for it. If American taxpayer money is going to be used to save a car company, the people deserve to know whether that company is making unsafe cars.

They deserve to send and receive e-mails, texts, and calls without the National Security Agency peering over their metaphorical shoulder without a warrant. They deserve a director of national intelligence who does not lie in testimony to Congress. For the amount of money we spend on gathering intelligence, we deserve better performance — or for an administration to act upon that intelligence more promptly. In a dangerous world, we deserve leaders who don’t fool themselves into thinking jihadists on the rise are just “the JV team.” They deserve a Secret Service that takes its job seriously and corrects its mistakes.

The Republican party and its candidates are not perfect. But the vast majority of its candidates bring a righteous anger to these unacceptable failures of the federal government and the culture of complacency that is flourishing within the federal bureaucracy.

Democrats, as the party of government, have proven themselves all too willing to avert their eyes from the problems of government, to excuse or explain them away, or to announce some bold-sounding reform that never gets seriously implemented and is eventually forgotten. They’re all too enthusiastic about nodding in agreement to bureaucrats’ excuses that their failures can be solved with a bigger budget. They’re all too likely to believe that appointing some other D.C. staffer in a special czar position will suddenly create accountability, honesty, and diligence. They’re all too inclined to accept passive-voice “mistakes were made” explanations with blame assigned to “systemic” failures instead of particular individuals who failed to perform their duties, meet their responsibilities, and act with integrity.

For all the flaws of Republicans, we know that when confronted with a failure of government, their first response will not be “How can we protect the president?”

The American people deserve better from their government. And for now, the most effective tool to put unresponsive bureaucrats on the hot seat of public hearings, and wield the potential punishment through the appropriations process, is a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

You could say it’s time to pull the weeds out of Washington.

Tags: Barack Obama , Congressional Republicans , Bureaucracy

Obama Administration Released Illegal Immigrants Charged With Homicide



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The opening section of the Morning Jolt spells out why Republicans would be fools to even consider any “comprehensive immigration reform” in the lame-duck session . . . or before the end of the Obama administration, really . . . 

Obama Administration Released Illegal Immigrants Charged With Homicide

This administration lies, and lies, and lies:

New records contradict the Obama administration’s assurances to Congress and the public that the 2,200 people it freed from immigration jails last year to save money had only minor criminal records.

The records, obtained by USA TODAY, show immigration officials released some undocumented immigrants who had faced far more serious criminal charges, including people charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.

The release sparked a furor in Congress. Republican lawmakers accused the Obama administration of setting dangerous criminals free. In response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had released “low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal records,” a claim the administration repeated to the public and to members of Congress.

The new records, including spreadsheets and hundreds of pages of e-mails, offer the most detailed information yet about the people ICE freed as it prepared for steep, across-the-government spending cuts in February 2013. They show that although two-thirds of the people who were freed had no criminal records, several had been arrested or convicted on charges more severe than the administration had disclosed.

Notice how many advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” will ignore this inconvenient story and continue insisting the administration can be trusted to sort through the 11 million or so illegal immigrants and sort out the ones who are a danger to Americans.

This is actually the administration’s second lie on the matter:

The director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, said his agency had released 2,228 illegal immigrants during that period for what he called “solely budgetary reasons.” The figure was significantly higher than the “few hundred” immigrants the Obama administration had publicly acknowledged were released under the budget-savings process. He testified during a hearing by a House appropriations subcommittee.

The allegedly cruel, xenophobic, and ignorant border-security crowd said that if we stopped deporting children who came to the United States illegally, it would create an incentive for more of them — and this summer they were proven right. Those same critics, mostly but not entirely on the right, argued that the administration saw illegal immigrants as a source of future votes, and put that goal over all other priorities and considerations. For this claim, they were mocked and derided; administration defenders insisted our government would never do that.

Shortly after his administration told this lie, Obama went to Ohio State and told the graduates to “reject” cynical voices telling them that government was the problem, that it was incompetent, and that it couldn’t be trusted.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama

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