Tag Archives: CONSTITUTION

What Happened to “We the People”? It seems “We” may not matter.

13 Aug

gty_GOP_path_130808_wg

We must regain control of our country.

A startling new political science study concludes that corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control U.S. policy to such a degree that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
The startling study, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Perspectives on Politics and was authored by Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin Page. An early draft can be found here.
Noted American University Historian Allan J. Lichtman, who highlighted the piece in a Tuesday article published in The Hill, calls Gilens and Page’s research “shattering” and says their scholarship “should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government.”
The statistical research looked at public attitudes on nearly 1,800 policy issues and determined that government almost always ignores the opinions of average citizens and adopts the policy preferences of monied business interests when shaping the contours of U.S. laws.
The study’s findings align with recent trends, where corporate elites have aggressively pursued pro-amnesty policies despite the fact that, according to the most recent Reuters poll, 70% of Americans believe illegal immigrants “threaten traditional U.S. beliefs and customs,” and 63% believe “immigrants place a burden on the economy.”
The solution, say the scholars, is a reinvigorated and engaged electorate.
“If policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened,” conclude Gilens and Page.
declaration signing

Fed appeals court panel says most Obamacare subsidies illegal

22 Jul

OBAMACARE

Dan Mangan
CNBC.com

In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a federal appeals court panel declared Tuesday that government subsidies worth billions of dollars that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.

A judicial panel in a 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to those people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov.

“Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. “We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority “portends disastrous consequences.”

Indeed, the decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.

The Obama administration is certain to ask the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse the panel’s decision, which for now does not have the rule of law.

The ruling endorsed a controversial interpretation of the Affordable Care Act that argues that the HealthCare.gov subsidies are illegal because ACA does not explicitly empower a federal exchange to offer subsidized coverage, as it does in the case of state-created exchanges. Subsidies for more than 2 million people who bought coverage on state exchanges would not be affected by Tuesday’s ruling if it is upheld.

HealthCare.gov serves residents of the 36 states that did not create their own health insurance marketplace. About 4.7 million people, or 86 percent of all HealthCare.gov enrollees, qualified for a subsidy to offset the cost of their coverage this year because they had low or moderate incomes.

If upheld, the ruling could lead many, if not most of those subsidized customers to abandon their health plans sold on HealthCare.gov because they no longer would find them affordable without the often-lucrative tax credits. And if that coverage then is not affordable for them as defined by the Obamacare law, those people will no longer be bound by the law’s mandate to have health insurance by this year or pay a fine next year.

If there were to be a large exodus of subsidized customers from the HealthCare.gov plans, it would in turn likely lead to much higher premium rates for nonsubsidized people who would remain in those plans.

The ruling also threatens, in the same 36 states, to gut the Obamacare rule starting next year that all employers with 50 or more full-time workers offer affordable insurance to them or face fines. That’s because the rule only kicks in if one of such an employers’ workers buy subsidized covered on HealthCare.gov.

The decision by the three-judge panel is the most serious challenge to the underpinnings of the Affordable Care Act since a challenge to that law’s constitutionality was heard by the Supreme Court. The high court in 2012 upheld most of the ACA, including the mandate that most people must get insurance or pay a fine.

If the Obama administration fails to prevail in its expected challenge to Tuesday’s bombshell ruling, it can ask the Supreme Court to reverse it.

A high court review is guaranteed if another federal appeals court circuit rules against plaintiffs in a similar case challenging the subsidies. And the only other circuit currently considering such a case, the Fourth Circuit, is expected by both sides to rule against plaintiffs there in a decision that is believed to be imminent.

Tuesday’s ruling focused on the plaintiffs’ claim that the ACA, in several of its sections, says that subsidies from the federal government in the form of tax credits can be issued through an exchange established by a state.

The law also says that if a state chooses not to set up its own exchange, the federal government can establish its own marketplace to sell insurance in such states.

However, the ACA does not explicitly say, as it does in the case of state-run exchanges, that subsidies can be given to people who buy insurance on a federal exchange.

The plaintiffs’ claim has been met with derision by Obamacare supporters, who argue that it relies on a narrow reading, or even misreading of the law. Those supporters said the claim ignores its overarching intent: to provide affordable insurance to millions of people who were previously uninsured.

Supporters argue that the legality of the subsidies to HealthCare.gov enrollee derives from the fact that the law explicitly anticipated the potential need to create an exchange in the event that a state chose not to.

When the ACA was passed, most supporters believed that the vast majority of states would create their own exchange. But the opposition to Obamacare of many Republican governors and state legislators lead to most states refusing to build their own marketplaces, setting the stage for the challenges to the subsidies issued for HealthCare.gov plans.

Two separate federal district court judges—in D.C. and Virginia—have rejected plaintiffs’ challenge to the subsidies. Those denials lead to the appeals in the D.C. federal circuit and in the Fourth Circuit.

Out of the more than 8 million Obamacare enrollees this year, fewer than 2.6 million people signed up in plans sold via an exchange run by a state or the District of Columbia. Of those people, 82 percent, or about 2.1 million, qualified for subsidies.

The subsidies are available to people whose incomes are between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s between about $24,000 and $95,400 annually.

In a report issued Thursday, the consultancy Avalere Health said that if those subsidies were removed this year from the 4.7 million people who received them in HealthCare.gov states, their premiums would have been an average of 76 percent higher in price than what they are paying now.

Another report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute estimated that by 2016, about 7.3 million enrollees who would have qualified for financial assistance will be lose access to about $36.1 billion in subsidies if those court challenges succeed.

Bergdahl release arrangement could threaten the safety of Americans, Republicans say

1 Jun

G BAY

By Karen Tumulty, Published: May 31

Amid jubilation Saturday over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity by the Taliban, senior Republicans on Capitol Hill said they were troubled by the means by which it was accomplished, which was a deal to release five Afghan detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Top Republicans on the Senate and House armed services committees went so far as to accuse President Obama of having broken the law, which requires the administration to notify Congress before any transfers from Guantanamo are carried out.

“Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.) and the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, James M. Inhofe (Okla.), said in a joint statement.

Lawmakers were not notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred.

The law requires the defense secretary to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before making any transfers of prisoners, to explain the reason and to provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to reengage in activities that could threaten the United States or its interests.

Before the current law was enacted at the end of last year, the conditions were even more stringent. However, the administration and some Democrats had pressed for them to be loosened, in part to give them more flexibility to negotiate for Bergdahl’s release.

A senior administration official, agreeing to speak on the condition of anonymity to explain the timing of the congressional notification, acknowledged that the law was not followed. When he signed the law last year, Obama issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.

“Due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life, we moved as quickly as possible,” the official said. “The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the detainees transferred from Guantanamo to Qatar, where they are to stay for at least a year, “are hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans and countless Afghans on their hands. I am eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists never return to the fight against the United States and our partners or engage in any activities that can threaten the prospects for peace and security in Afghanistan.”

Beyond this individual instance, some raised the larger question of whether it is sound policy for the United States to have, in the words of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), “negotiated with terrorists.”

Rogers said the action marked a “fundamental shift in U.S. policy.”

Obama acts is if he’s above the law; he’s not

29 Apr

one bill at at time

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

What liberals refer to as “obstructionist” tactics by Republicans in blocking the socialist policies of Barack Hussein Obama, conservatives call “preserving the Constitution.”

It’s interesting that while the president has often referred to himself as a “constitutional law professor,” the title is somewhat gratuitous. While never a full-time or tenured professor, he did teach courses in constitutional law at the University of Chicago as a “senior lecturer.”

Unfortunately, rather than use his knowledge to adhere to its provisions, the president has chosen to test the boundaries of our government’s founding document.

Article II, Section 3 of the U. S. Constitution, sometimes known as the “Faithful Execution Clause,” is best read as a duty that qualifies the president’s executive power. By virtue of this power, the president is required to “take care” that our nation’s laws are “faithfully executed.”

But not only has Obama been derelict in his duty to protect our laws, he’s an offender.

As Democrats are so fond of reminding Republicans, Obamacare is now the law of the land.

But despite the fact The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was indeed signed into law in 2010 and ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, President Obama believes it’s within his power to make changes without Congressional action!

Our Constitution clearly grants legislative powers to Congress. The president does not have the authority to arbitrarily “alter” legislation signed into law.

The employer mandate, which requires businesses employing 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance or pay a fine, was scheduled to take effect in 2014, but has been delayed entirely or in part, twice, by the president!

The fact that Obamacare is poor legislation doesn’t grant the president powers exceeding those afforded him by the Constitution.

And in the first case of its kind, the Supreme Court is now arguing the legality of four “recess” appointments made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2012. The Constitution allows the president to make temporary appointments to those positions that otherwise require Senate confirmation, but only when the Senate is in recess. The problem is — the Senate was not in recess!

Three federal appeals courts have already ruled that Obama overstepped his authority in these appointments.

It’s obvious the president is following the “executive version” of the liberal playbook which calls for continuous contestation of preconceived limitations designed to “progressively” tilt the scales of totalitarian power to the left.

President Obama is arguably the most liberal president in our nation’s history. If he’s successful in these attempts to bypass our nation’s laws, what leftist policies will he pursue in his remaining years in office?

The U.S. Constitution is not merely a guideline to be consulted by those it was written to regulate. It’s the supreme law of the land written to protect the rights of all Americans and must be protected.

It’s time Americans “tether” President Obama to the Constitution and hold him accountable for adhering to its precepts.

This president is not above the law.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Liberals’ only interest is fundamental change

17 Apr

holder

hillary

lerner

sebelius

Apr. 17, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Few government entities have the capacity to impact Americans more than the Justice Department, the State Department, the Health and Human Services Department and the Internal Revenue Service. All are led by individuals appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

With a combined annual budget approaching $1 trillion of taxpayer money, these agencies shoulder significant responsibility in managing the infrastructure of government and taking care of the people’s business.

Yet despite the substandard performance of each of these government agencies during the Obama administration, liberals seem more focused on advancing their progressive movement than strengthening our nation and seeking justice.

In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation. Two guns found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s fatal shooting were determined to be linked to the Justice Department operation. While the investigation is ongoing, Holder insists the tragedy is simply being leveraged for political advantage.

On the night of September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group of terrorists attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing four brave Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. In the days following the attack, the State Department would engage in what appeared to be a cover-up of what actually happened during the attack with a fabricated story claiming the uprising was in opposition to an anti-Muslim film that had triggered protests in Egypt and elsewhere.

Recently, shouldering the weight of a miserable Healthcare.gov rollout and feeling the pressure of an upcoming election, Kathleen Sebelius resigned her post as secretary of Health and Human Services. But timing is everything in politics, so it was important for the Obama administration to “accept” her resignation in the wake of the announcement that 7.5 million people already had signed up for Obamacare. Interestingly, the White House will not provide answers to key questions, such as how many enrollees were previously insured and how many have actually paid their first month’s premium.

But this administration has proven it won’t allow facts to get in the way of advancing its agenda. It’s mind-numbing for liberals to be so infatuated with this president it means absolutely nothing to them that he repeatedly and unrepentantly lied to Americans about the Affordable Care Act!

And just last week, The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a resolution to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify at two of the panel’s hearings. Lerner, who headed an IRS division that reviews applications for tax exemption, invoked her Fifth Amendment right at both hearings when asked about targeting of Tea Party affiliated organizations.

Now, we’ve always had government corruption, but the scope and practice here is unprecedented. Despite the Obama administration’s autocratic, unfettered approach, liberals don’t seem to care.

They simply want fundamental change.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page

TOMBLIN CHOOSES A VOTE OVER THE LIFE OF A CHILD

30 Mar

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks.
Tomblin said, in a statement released by his office on March 28, his reason for vetoing the bill was because it was unconstitutional.
“I have vetoed HB 4588 because I am advised, by not only attorneys from the legislature, but through my own legal team that this bill is unconstitutional.”
Tomblin said while he believes there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life, he had to veto the bill.
During the regular session, Sen. Erik Wells asked for the bill to be read in it’s entirety, explaining it was unconstitutional and he was prepared to bring that to the attention of the Legislature.
Wells said it was amazing to him the Legislature would be so quick to protect West Virginians rights when it came to Freedom of Speech, the Right to Bear Arms, but legislators were quick to “trample the rights of women in West Virginia.”
Tomblin said his legal team were not the only ones advising him the bill would do more harm than good.
“The bill is also problematic because it unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship,” Tomblin said. “All patients, particularly expectant mothers, require the best, most unfettered medical judgment and advice from their physicians regarding treatment options.”
Tomblin said the medical community had also advised him the bill would have jeopardized the health of pregnant women.
“The medical community has made it clear to me that the criminal penalties this bill imposes will impede that advice, and those options, to the detriment of the health and safety of expectant mothers,” he added.
Known as the abortion bill, House Bill 4588, is the second one Tomblin has vetoed since the legislative session ended on March 8.
Tomblin also took issue with the budget bill, vetoing several aspects of it on March 19.
tomblin

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