Tag Archives: President

Mark Caserta: Americans can’t compromise privacy for security

30 Jan

NSA
Jan. 30, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Do Americans have a fundamental right to privacy from government intrusion into their lives?

The right to privacy, in many ways, has been taken for granted to some degree by the American people. Each of us has grown accustomed to having the liberty to establish varying boundaries in our lives that we simply expect others to respect.

But the right to keep those boundaries might be in peril.

While the Constitution contains no “express” right to privacy, courts have ruled the Bill of Rights creates “zones of privacy” which protect us from government intrusion in many areas of our lives. Our Founding Fathers believed that smaller, less intrusive government was necessary in enabling Americans to be free.

I’ve been tentative about weighing in on National Security Agency (NSA) systems analyst Edward Snowden and his “whistle blowing” of our government’s security techniques to the world. But it’s time Americans begin processing how this information may impact our future personal freedoms.

Snowden revealed a top-secret program code-named “PRISM” operating under the provisions of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the government uses to collect personal data from American citizens indiscriminately and regardless of suspicion of wrongdoing.

Investigations have confirmed that data such as video chats, photographs and emails are collected from the servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and other online companies.

My position has been this is an infringement upon the privacy rights of Americans. While Snowden “appeared” courageous in his whistle blowing, he should have presented his case through the proper venues — an error which will likely keep him from ever returning home.

But then last week, two leading members of the House Intelligence Committee revealed a classified Pentagon report that found Edward Snowden’s leaks have compromised U.S. military tactics and put troops in danger.

Republican committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers and ranking Democrat Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said that Snowden stole approximately 1.7 million intelligence files that “concern vital operations of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.” Since this information has already aided the enemy, Snowden is now pegged a traitor.

“The vast majority of the material was related to the Defense Department, and our military services,” Rogers said in an Associated Press interview last week. “Clearly, given the scope and the types of information, I have concerns about operations that would be ongoing in Afghanistan.”

It’s important for Americans to maintain perspective here and not be swayed by political affiliation.

Our government has been exposed (albeit by a traitor) “experimenting” with the boundaries of privacy afforded by the U.S. Constitution.

In 2013, President Barack Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, told Americans they were “going to have to make some choices” balancing privacy and security and defended the NSA surveillance program vigorously.

Consider this: If our privacy isn’t protected by the Constitution, what then, defines the government’s limitations?

Americans should never be asked to give up fundamental rights to gain the government’s protection.

That’s a dangerous step backward.

Mark Caserta : Ignoring insurance mandate could be costly

26 Jan

irs
Jan. 23, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Over the past several months, the Obama administration has primarily employed a “soft approach” in convincing individuals to enroll on their health insurance marketplace website.

But their approach will most certainly “broaden” in scope very soon.

March 31 is the open-enrollment deadline for Americans to purchase healthcare coverage as required by the Obamacare individual mandate.

Beginning next year, absent a qualifying exemption, the IRS will begin financially penalizing Americans who refuse to follow the Democrats’ marching orders.

Following this weighty deadline, the IRS will begin “casting its net” to capture what the administration calls a “shared responsibility payment” from individuals who chose “not” to purchase health insurance.

Now, the infinite details would be impossible to capture in a few words, but I’ll highlight the “big rocks.”

While the penalty begins small, it increases in subsequent years and could conceivably reach thousands of dollars per family per year once fully implemented.

The IRS website provides a sequential look at the increases over the next few years:

2014: $95 per person per year or 1 percent of your income.

2015: $325 per person per year or 2 percent of your income.

2016: $695 per person per year or 2.5 percent of your income.

2017: Tax penalty will increase by the rate of inflation going forward, or 2.5 percent of your income.

It’s noteworthy that these percentages are based on your modified adjusted gross income, which adds back certain deductions such as IRA contributions and student loan or higher education deductions. It’s also pro-rated for the number of months you are without coverage beginning after three months.

Currently, the only means the IRS has to collect the penalty is to withhold any money you would get back after filing your income tax returns.

“The amount of the shared responsibility payment will be included on the annual Form 1040 starting with the 2014 return taxpayers file,” Eric Smith, an IRS spokesperson told U.S. News. “It will offset any refund that would otherwise be due or will add to any balance due.”

Now there’s a laundry list of qualifying exemptions, many which benefit low-income Americans. For example, if the lowest-priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8 percent of your household income or if your income is less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, you’ll be relieved of any penalty.

Additional information can be obtained by visiting http://www.irs.gov.

The road ahead is marred with potholes of uncertainty. Higher medical costs, shortage of doctors and longer wait times are all possibilities. If insurance providers collapse under the changes, the government will most likely step in and “rescue” Americans with a single-payer, government-run, healthcare system.

This administration’s belief that Americans have “shared” responsibility in paying for other people’s health insurance aligns perfectly with Barack Obama’s “spread the wealth” ideology.

Each of us must take personal responsibility and seek our best possible options while they’re still available.

But ignoring Obamacare’s individual mandate won’t be a choice.

Doing so could be costly.

ObamaCare Exemption: How to Avoid the ObamaCare Tax Penalty

19 Jan

OBAMA-AP%20PHOTO_0

Those who have insurance through work or currently do not have insurance obviously have nothing to worry about when it comes to the tax penalty. Those on Medicare or Medicaid will also be exempt. Aside from this Americans below the %133 FPL threshold will be exempt as well. Overall around 26 million Americans will be exempt from the tax penalty.

If you belong to any of the groups listed below you are exempt from ObamaCare’s mandate to “obtain minimum essential coverage” (i.e. buy insurance):

• Unaffordable coverage options Exemption. People who would have to pay more than 8 percent of their household income for health insurance

• No filing requirement. People with incomes below the threshold required for filing taxes (in 2012, $9,750 for a single person and $27,100 for a married couple with two children)

• Hardship. The Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the Affordable Insurance Exchange, has certified that you have suffered a hardship that makes you unable to obtain coverage.

• Short Coverage Gap Exemption. If go without coverage for less than three consecutive months during the year you will not be responsible for the fee for those months. Make sure to sign up for a plan that starts by April 1st, 2014 to avoid the per month fee in 2014. Open enrollment ends March 31st, but if you sign up after March 15th your coverage won’t start until May 1st, 2014 and you may be responsible for the fee for going without health coverage in April.

• Religious conscience. People who qualify for religious exemptions. The Social Security Administration administers the process for recognizing these sects according to the criteria in the law.

• Health care sharing ministry. You are a member of a recognized health care sharing ministry

• Not lawfully present. Undocumented immigrants; You are not a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or an alien lawfully present in the U.S.

• Incarceration. People who are incarcerated.

• Indian tribes. Members of a federally recognized Indian tribe.

For those who can afford it and choose not to purchase health insurance the tax will be unavoidable. The money collected from these taxes goes towards funding ObamaCare and subsidizing hospitals who will have to cover unpaid emergency room visits. The money is also a down payment on your almost inevitable use of the health care system.

Check out the official IRS website on exemptions and the Individual mandate for additional details.

Hardship Exemption Update December 20th, 2013: If you had your plan canceled in 2014 due to the Affordable Care Act you now qualify for a hardship exemption in 2014. That means you won’t have to pay the fee if you decide to go without insurance and will qualify for a low premium, high out-of-pocket catastrophic plan on your State’s health insurance marketplace. This change does not affect your ability to get subsidies or purchase other marketplace plans.

ObamaCare Exemption: How to Apply for an Exemption

ObamaCare exemptions (i.e. getting an exemption from the Affordable Care Acts individual shared responsibility fee) for unaffordable coverage, short coverage gaps, certain hardships and individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States can be claimed only as part of filing a federal income tax return. The exemption for those under the federal income tax return filing threshold is available automatically. No special action is needed. For other exemptions you’ll need to claim exemption on your income taxes and/or apply for a exemption certificate through the marketplace.

What Happens If I Don’t Pay the Individual Mandate Fee?

The only way for the IRS to collect the fee for not having health insurance, if you choose not to pay it, is for them to withhold the money you would get back from the IRS after filing your income tax returns. The IRS cannot enforce the Individual Shared Responsibility provision with jail time, liens, or any other of typical methods of collection.

What is Minimum Essential Coverage?

In order to avoid the mandate you’ll have to obtain “minimum essential coverage”. Basically this includes all Government and job based insurance and most private insurance. As a rule of thumb if you have insurance already you don’t have to worry about the mandate.

Minimum essential coverage includes the following:
•Employer-sponsored coverage (including COBRA coverage and retiree coverage)
•Coverage purchased in the individual market, including a qualified health plan offered by the Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as an Affordable Insurance Exchange)
•Medicare Part A coverage and Medicare Advantage plans
•Most Medicaid coverage
•Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage
•Certain types of veterans health coverage administered by the Veterans Administration
•TRICARE
•Coverage provided to Peace Corps volunteers
•Coverage under the Non-appropriated Fund Health Benefit Program
•Refugee Medical Assistance supported by the Administration for Children and Families
•Self-funded health coverage offered to students by universities for plan or policy years that begin on or before Dec. 31, 2014 (for later plan or policy years, sponsors of these programs may apply to HHS to be recognized as minimum essential coverage)
•State high risk pools for plan or policy years that begin on or before Dec. 31, 2014 (for later plan or policy years, sponsors of these program may apply to HHS to be recognized as minimum essential coverage)

Minimum essential coverage does not include coverage providing only limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision care or dental care, and Medicaid covering only certain benefits such as family planning, workers’ compensation, or disability policies.

Can I Buy Insurance for my Kids and Pay the Tax for Myself?

You can get coverage for any of all of your dependents but you will still be responsible for the tax penalty for yourself

AN OBAMACARE STORM IS COMING…

9 Jan

STORM

Two Obamacare “meltdown” events have yet to happen – and some folks will be blind-sided…

The following is a list of “tips” the White House is providing on their website for insuring you’re properly covered.

Now this is their “disclaimer” so that when something unexpectedly happens, they can say, “Well, we had the directions on our website…”
Here are the two meltdown events coming:

1) When the employer mandate kicks in, millions more Americans will lose their health coverage at their job and be “forced” to shop the insurance exchanges.
2) Those uninformed people, many whom voted for Obama, who did not purchase the coverage mandated will be hit with fines deducted from their tax returns. If they won’t receive a tax return, the IRS will, no doubt, garnish their wages or put a tax lien on their property.

The only hope is for Republicans to win the Senate in November and the presidency in 2016. We can then use the “nuclear option” the Democrats just created to dump this piece of garbage and make some much needed changes to health care in our country.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/12/31/new-day-health-care-coverage

A New Day in Health Care Coverage | The White House

http://www.whitehouse.gov

insurance

Obamacare more about power than healthcare

26 Dec

Mark Caserta: Obamacare more about power than healthcare

Dec. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Americans have been given a false choice regarding healthcare reform.

There were many viable alternatives for making healthcare more available and affordable in America that didn’t require tearing down the entire system and replacing it with a mandate that all Americans “bow” at the altar of the Department of Health and Human Services or the Internal Revenue Service.

Yet Democrat leadership failed to pursue reasonable solutions which studies have shown would significantly improve healthcare in the U.S. while maintaining an individual’s right to choose the coverage which best suits their needs.

Americans struggling to make ends meet should receive tax breaks commensurate with their income enabling them to afford quality healthcare for themselves and their family. I would personally like to see the money our government sends to other nations outside of humanitarian needs redirected to subsidize healthcare coverage for Americans at or below our nation’s poverty level. America must stay strong to help others!

People with pre-existing conditions shouldn’t be left out in the cold. But we can’t expect insurance companies to simply “absorb” these additional costs. Again, our government should re-allocate foreign aid funding, as well as eliminate their own irresponsible spending, to cover these additional costs in the form of a tax subsidy.

We must allow insurance companies to sell their policies across state lines. We have every reason to believe that healthy competition will reduce costs and provide more options for Americans just as every other U.S. industry.

Tort reform on medical malpractice is needed. Our current system increases costs both directly, in the form of higher malpractice insurance premiums, and indirectly, in the form of defensive medicine when medical services are prescribed simply to circumvent liability rather than benefit the patient.

Employers should be encouraged to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees. HSAs allow individuals to set aside money from each paycheck, before taxes, for future medical care. The American people are much more frugal and conscientious with their money than the government! An HSA may also be an excellent fit with a high-deductible insurance plan.

Pre-Obamacare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, (CBO) there were around 15 million uninsured Americans in the U.S. But based on CBO projections, once Obamacare is fully implemented, and working smoothly, that number climbs to 30 million in 2023!

I submit the Obamacare journey, which has cost our nation billions of dollars, has never really been about providing health coverage for all Americans, but something entirely different.

President Obama and Democrats sold Obamacare on a series of lies knowing it would result in a base of voters not only dependent upon government, but subject to extortion of their tax dollars if they defied the mandate.

A defining characteristic of this administration is to arrogantly operate within the narrowest definition of executive power and outside of the people’s consent.

The fact that Obamacare shifts power away from the people and to government challenges the fundamental belief that government must derive its “just powers from the consent of the governed”.

Obamacare isn’t about healthcare. It’s about power.
one bill at at time

OBAMA DESERVING OF “LIE OF THE YEAR” AWARD

19 Dec

obamacare 3 years later Obama deserved the ‘Lie of the Year’ award

Dec. 19, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The votes are in. And the winner of the Politifact.com 2013 “Lie of the Year” award goes to (drum roll please) …

President Barack Obama’s “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” promise he exploited for over three years!

Congratulations, Mr. President. Along with disappointing millions of Americans, you’ve successfully compromised the integrity of the office of president of the United States.

The president’s bogus pledge was the winner of this year’s “Lie of the Year” award from Politifact.com, a Tampa Bay Times project in which reporters and editors from the Times and affiliated media outlets “fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups.” On their website, original statements are evaluated and assigned a “Truth-O-Meter” rating, which range from “True” for completely accurate statements to “Pants on Fire” for outright lies.

In winning this year’s award, Barack Hussein Obama received the esteemed “Pants on Fire” rating for his presidential prevarication, and deservedly so.

In justifying last week’s annual award, Politifact explained the administration’s responses subsequent to the president’s and his Marxist minions’ original canard provided the necessary “tail wind” leading up to this year’s recognition.

Shortly after the lackluster rollout of the Healthcare.gov website and millions of Americans receiving insurance cancellation notices, the administration tried desperately to shift the blame to the health care providers.

“It’s important to remember both before the ACA was ever even a gleam in anybody’s eye, let alone passed into law, that insurance companies were doing this all the time, especially in the individual market because it was lightly regulated and the incentives were so skewed,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

But the president distanced himself from the field in winning this year’s award when he tried to rewrite history altogether and “lie about his lie.”

“Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law, (it was also at this point the moniker “Obamacare” disappeared from the lips of liberals) and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed,” the president told his political supporters.

But as Politifact reported, President Obama uttered his infamous “If you like it, you can keep it” phrase at least 37 times without any such caveat or disclaimer.

While I offer a facetious portrayal of this annual accolade, I submit that this was an unapologetic deceit of the highest order which is impacting the lives of millions of Americans who are losing their healthcare coverage.

One must wonder what other lies Americans have been told to advance or protect this president’s socialist agenda?

Were Americans lied to about the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” scandal, the IRS targeting Tea Party groups or the NSA?

These questions remain unanswered but voter polling makes one thing perfectly clear.

If Americans had known the truth about Obamacare, Barack Obama would have never won the 2012 presidential election.

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

Iran gamble gives Tehran time and money

14 Dec

Iran nuclear sites

Iran gamble gives Tehran time and money

Dec. 12, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The Obama administration is gambling on the world stage, and the stakes are very high.

A deal was reached last month with Tehran and six major powers meant to freeze key components of the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

At the time the deal was signed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “historic mistake” and one that made the world a “much more dangerous place.”

Consider first, the players at the table — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

An argument can be made that the interest of our closest ally and the nation with the most to lose from these negotiations was missing from the table. That is Israel.

Second, both China and Russia are known to be actively engaged in assisting Tehran in its nuclear and missile technology. In fact, the very foundation of Tehran’s nuclear program can be traced to extensive Chinese and Russian cooperation.

Tehran has received extensive missile testing and guidance assistance from China and Russia, according to multiple reports. In June 1996, the results of a Congressional hearing cited U.S. intelligence findings that China had already “delivered dozens, perhaps hundreds of missile guidance systems and computerized tools to Iran.”

With Russian help, Iranian scientists have set up two sites to use laser technology to “more efficiently” enrich uranium which could be used for a nuclear bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports Tehran expects Russia to build two “additional” nuclear plants in the Bushehr province where they’ve been assisting the Iranians for years.

Two years ago, the IAEA released a comprehensive report on Tehran’s nuclear program based on intelligence from multiple countries, interviews with scientists who helped Tehran develop their program and the IAEA’s own investigations.

The report clearly indicated Iran engaged in “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device.” These activities include:

Research on uranium cores and detonators for nuclear weapons.

Acquiring nuclear weapons information and documentation from a clandestine supply network.

Developing an indigenous nuclear weapons design and testing of the components.

Computer modeling of nuclear explosions and logistics for nuclear testing.

Engineering studies to adapt missiles for nuclear warheads.

The IAEA’s May 2013 report noted Tehran already had a sufficient stockpile of enriched uranium to produce weapons-grade uranium for seven nuclear bombs and was continuing to increase its capacity to enrich to weapons-grade.

Remember, Tehran is considered to be the leading state sponsor of terrorism, providing financial support and training for organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and others.

The United States seems to be the only nation with no “down cards” in this apocalyptic game. Inspections and “fail-safe” measures aside, once a rogue nation has technology, it cannot be extracted!

A good gambler knows when to walk away. Right now, President Obama is “all in,” wagering the safety of millions on the hope we can trust Tehran, China and Russia — and the odds aren’t favorable.

Staying in this game provides our enemies with the two resources they need most — time and money.

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

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