In the News: Blog

It isn’t just that the federal government has lots of regulations – and it does; the Code of Federal Regulation takes up more than 20 feet of shelf space – but that the government keeps producing more. The Wall Street Journal points out just how much reading Americans must keep up on if they don’t want to violate the law:

“Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules consuming 26,417 pages in the Federal Register. While plenty of government employees deserve credit for this milestone, leadership matters. And by this measure President Obama has never been surpassed in the Oval Office.”

It was a pleasure to talk to Wisconsinites gathered earlier this week at Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee. I had a chance to lay out some of the facts about the country’s fiscal condition, especially how our federal government managed to accumulate more than $17,000,000,000,000 in debt and what it means to our children’s future.

It’s not a cheerful message, I know, but it was encouraging to see so many people coming to hear and to ask what they can do. We all want a prosperous America; we all want every American to have a opportunity to build a good life for herself and for her family. We can debate what policy allows that, but we have to start by acknowledging the known fiscal facts.

You can see the presentation and the fantastic question-and-answer session afterward here, thanks to Wisconsin Eye. Click on the television logo to see the video.

Kathleen Sebelius is out as chief implementer of Obamacare. Streiff at Red State sums up her thinking: “I've done all the damage I can do here, it is time to move on.”

The Wall Street Journal correctly points out that it’s simply that her utility to the administration was exhausted:

“She's going now because the White House is claiming victory from 7.5 million sign-ups and there is a political window before premiums rise during the next ObamaCare sign-up period and before the fall elections. As a symbol of ObamaCare, which continues to be unpopular in most of the country, Ms. Sebelius is now a liability as an election spokesman even in Democratic precincts.”

Liability indeed: When even administration mouthpieces like the New York Times refers to her work as “disastrous” and her record includes admitted violations of federal laws, Sebelius was not going to help win over voters.

But Sebelius was never the chief problem with Obamacare. The disastrous rollout wasn’t, either. Websites eventually get fixed, though it is incredible that the administration is taking so long to do so.

The problem with Obamacare is the law itself. It raises the cost of health coverage by pointless mandates, forced overcharging, clueless economics and the crushing of consumer freedom. This stinking heap of a law that already has cost millions of people their coverage and access to their doctors will have a new administrator -- presiding over the same unworkable mess.

Nearly two dozen conservative organizations have sent a letter to all U.S. senators urging them to sign onto an amicus brief in support of my lawsuit against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The text of the letter is here.

I appreciate the support. To date, the president has made 21 unilateral changes to Obamacare. One of these changes I believe I actually have standing to challenge. Specifically, under a rule issued by the president’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the administrative branch determined that unlike millions of their countrymen who have lost coverage and who must now purchase insurance through an exchange, members and their staffs will now receive an employer contribution to help pay for their new plans.

The Obama administration is working hard to make sure this case does not see its day in court. On March 17, 2014, the administration filed its initial response to my lawsuit: a motion to dismiss for lack of standing.

I hope all of my colleagues in both the House and Senate will join me in my effort to push back against this lawless administration. There is currently an amicus brief circulating for members of Congress to sign that makes a strong case for how Obama himself has dismantled his own signature piece of legislation through presidential decree.

A united front will surely help my case for standing so that we can proceed to a full trial demonstrating President Obama’s unconstitutional overreach.

The Obama administration has been crowing about how many people signed up for coverage on the Obamacare exchanges, but the real question is how many of those people were uninsured before. The reason the nation was saddled with a $2 trillion program that’s causing millions of people to lose their health plans or doctors and is raising premiums is because at least it will provide coverage to those who didn’t have it, according to Obamacare backers.

A new study by the nonprofit RAND Corporation Tuesday put the number of people who found coverage on the exchanges at 3.9 million, a number that does not include any surge in enrollments in the last three days of March. But the shock comes from another figure in RAND’s study:

“Although a total of 3.9 million people enrolled in marketplace plans, only 1.4 million of these individuals were previously uninsured.”

That's it: 1.4 million people gained coverage. As the Weekly Standard puts it:

“If the 1.4 million figure is correct, that means that less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. population gained insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.”

And millions of Americans should have lost their doctors and their health care plans for this?

More on the numbers from Forbes magazine's Avik Roy here

Apr 10 2014

The myth of 77 cents

It’s been illegal to pay women less than men with comparable experience working the same job ever since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. You wouldn’t know that from the way Democrats are pushing a bill they call the “Paycheck Fairness Act.” It’s a cynical exercise in political posturing that would result in downward pressure on wages for all Americans.

The bill’s supporters cite a statistic to prove that pay discrimination still exists: They say women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. The problem is that the statistic is misleading: It compares pay for all men and all women working in all jobs. Economists Mark Perry and Andrew Biggs take apart the myth in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. For one thing:

“Men were almost twice as likely as women to work more than 40 hours a week, and women almost twice as likely to work only 35 to 39 hours per week. Once that is taken into consideration, the pay gap begins to shrink. Women who worked a 40-hour week earned 88% of male earnings.”

It angered me when President Obama in 2009 said doctors were so greedy, they might perform unnecessary surgery on a child (yes, the President of the United States actually said this) just to collect a few extra bucks. It was so far from what I knew of doctors, especially the ones who saved my daughter’s life on the day she was born. I found the president’s claim so offensive, I ran for the Senate – so I could help undo the damage inflicted on our health care system by the president’s health care law.

That law did include at least one honest provision: a requirement that forced Congress to buy coverage on the Obamacare exchanges. The “Affordable Care Act” has caused more than 5 million people to be dropped off the health care plans they chose and liked, and they found themselves having to buy coverage on the exchanges. Over and over, Wisconsinites have contacted my office about how the plans they found on the exchanges were worse and more expensive than what they had. At least the law decreed that members of Congress and their staffs would be in the same boat.

But they’re not. Members of Congress and their staffs, alone among all Americans forced to buy coverage on the Obamacare exchanges, can get a tax-preferred contribution from their employer toward the premiums. No one else dumped onto the exchanges gets such a break. That’s simply not fair.

It’s not legal, either: The law doesn’t allow it. Congress gets this special treatment only because President Obama decreed it through a ruling last summer from his Office of Personnel Management. He had no legal authority to do so.

That’s why I am suing. I explained this at the Heritage Foundation in Washington this week. You can see my explanation here (my part starts at 5:20):

Obamacare is harmful to health care and to our freedom on many levels. It hurts far more people than it helps, which is why President Obama must keep on ignoring the law to paper over its flaws. He does not have the legal authority to rewrite laws unilaterally and repeatedly, but he does it.

We have a Constitution. Under it, the president’s job is to implement law, not to decree it. We must respect that Constitution, and the president’s actions endanger it. That is the primary reason I filed this lawsuit.

Also of interest: The video includes comments from Joseph Morris and Andrew Kloster, two legal experts who explained why the special deal for Congress deserves a lawsuit.

It is fashionable in Democrat circles to be enraged about the Koch brothers. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been claiming that Charles and David Koch, two men who have grown wealthy by making things Americans see fit to purchase and who employ tens of thousands of people, including Wisconsinites, are “un-American.” Last month, unions in New York protested angrily because David Koch gave $100 million to a hospital.

Charles G. KochIt’s fair to wonder what beliefs these brothers have that set off such hate. Charles Koch laid it out in a Wall Street Journal essay last week. In case you missed it, judge for yourself whether this is an “un-American” set of beliefs:

“Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness. This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves. Those in power fail to see that more government means less liberty, and liberty is the essence of what it means to be American. Love of liberty is the American ideal.”

Harry Reid and other liberals are so offended by those ideas, they would rather you never hear them. That’s why they keep telling the Koch brothers to shut up. I know what I think is un-American: Saying “Shut up!” to anyone’s right to free speech.

The Wall Street Journal had it about right in praising last week’s Supreme Court decision that government cannot tell any free American how many candidates she or he may support with donations:

Chief Justice John Roberts“One of the Supreme Court's worst mistakes was its willingness to tolerate limits on political free speech in the name of campaign-finance reform. The current Justices have slowly been walking back this historic blunder, and on Wednesday they took another step by killing the overall limit on how much money an individual can contribute to politics.”

Why are such limits unjust? Chief Justice John Roberts put it perfectly in his decision:

“The Government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

President Obama boasts that his “Affordable” Care Act is a success because 7.1 million people registered on his government-run exchanges. This falls miserably short of expectations set only two years ago, but that doesn’t stop him from proclaiming the debate won.

Vulnerable members of his own party disagree. Democrats who voted for Obamacare are desperately trying to patch the scheme’s economic leaks, the Wall Street Journal reports:

“The big idea is to create a cheaper, worse type of coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges. All current plans are more or less interchangeable because of the law's benefit and wealth redistribution mandates. They differ based mainly on how much of the upfront cost is built into the premium, with tiers known as platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

“The Senators want to create a new ‘copper’ policy that would cover 50% of average medical expenses with the rest out of pocket. Are people really clamoring for even higher ObamaCare deductibles? A true fix would deregulate the exchanges and trust American consumers to choose the benefits they want or need, rather than forcing them to pay slightly less for one uniform standard.”