We extend our sincerest condolences and heartfelt prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Schweich. RIP
February 26th, 2015 by J. Jonah Jameson ·
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February 24th, 2015 by Mark Truman ·
“In an op-ed published by USA Today, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Americans deserve an explanation for President Barack Obama’s likely veto and the lengthy approval process since the filing of the pipeline application — more than 2,300 days, they wrote.”
In their op-ed, Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner state, “Tuesday, as promised, the new Congress is sending the White House legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. This project will support tens of thousands of American jobs. It will bolster the nation’s infrastructure and energy security. And it enjoys a broad base of support from Republicans and Democrats, labor unions and small business owners, not to mention an overwhelming majority of Americans. Keystone is a no-brainer in every way, but the White House says the president will veto this jobs bill. Americans deserve to know why, and what a veto would mean.”
They explain the president’s endless delays: “What makes Keystone different? Just politics, really. Since 2009, liberal extremists have used the project as an environmental litmus test for the president. And he has repeatedly aimed to please, moving deadlines until after elections and stalling the project to near-death. The snag in their plan was, Keystone just kept on clearing hurdles, including every environmental test, leaving behind all the excuses for delay. A veto now would be the ultimate sop to these extremists at the expense of the greater good.”
And sure enough, National Journal reports today, “Now that the Oscars are over, Hollywood is turning its attention to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. A slate of actors and musicians, including Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Robert Redford, Willie Nelson, and Neil Young called on President Obama on Tuesday to put an end to the oil-sands project once and for all. . . . The cadre of celebrities has a history of opposing the pipeline. But the latest Hollywood push arrives ahead of an expected presidential veto of legislation approved by the GOP Congress to build Keystone XL, a pipeline that would haul crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. . . . Others who signed the letter include Bill McKibben, the founder of the environmental group 350.org, Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat and self-described climate hawk.”
President Obama faces a choice. The American public “favors building the pipeline” “[b]y nearly two-to-one,” as a Pew poll found in January; trade unions and workers including prominent labor leaders and Democrat supporters like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka support building the pipeline. On the other side is, essentially, the oft-cited 1%. Liberal billionaires like Tom Steyer. The Wall Street Journal noted last year that “Mr. Steyer and the [Democrat] party’s liberal financiers … have made killing Keystone a non-negotiable demand.” And now rich Hollywood celebrities are lining up to oppose the pipeline, too.
Will President Obama pick the one percenters over American workers and the vast majority of the American public?
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February 23rd, 2015 by Mark Truman ·
The argument against voter ID gets more and more ridiculous!
Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-St. Louis County
“The bill was amended Wednesday to include Missouri paying for birth certificates for those who do not have one. Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-St. Louis County, said he was glad the amendment was added and therefore, could support the bill. “We’re providing those state IDs to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Missourians for free,” Dogan said. “We’re allowing them access to vote, in many cases, for the first time when they haven’t been able to vote before.”
Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis City
However, the amendment was not enough for Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis City, to support the bill and he attacked Republicans for their governing philosophy. “This bill is placing a government-issued ID in between the people and their votes,” Butler said. “This bill shows that some of members in this body are not being consistent about their message, are not being consistent about what they believe the state should be.” Read more…
February 23rd, 2015 by Mark Truman ·
“[T]he subsidies that may appear to simply lower the cost of insurance premiums are actually ‘advance premium tax credits’ that are paid directly to health insurers. Because those credits are made on each taxpayer’s behalf, it’s up to individual taxpayers to determine whether the ‘advance payment’ was too much or too little. Though many of these individuals have never had to file before — they simply earned too little to be required to file — they will now need to complete tax returns to reconcile the Obamacare subsidies they got with what they owe, according to the IRS.
“Meanwhile, those who didn’t buy insurance or had a lapse in coverage that exceeded three months will need to determine whether they’re subject to a tax penalty. Both situations involve slogging through new forms and dozens of pages of instructions.
“‘If you didn’t have any changes in your situation over the course of the year — everyone was covered under the policy and your income is exactly the same as it was in 2013 — it might not be that bad,’ said Mark Luscombe, principal tax analyst with Wolters Kluwer, Tax & Accounting U.S. ‘But if you had a change in circumstances or don’t have a perfectly straightforward situation, the amount of time it takes to handle this will increase exponentially.’
“Why? If you received discounted insurance through a health exchange, you’ll need to fill out the mind-boggling Form 8962. Although this two-page form officially has just 36 lines, there are actually 90 spaces on just the first page that need to be filed in — up to six spaces for each official ‘line.’ . . . To put the correct figures in several of these spaces, you’ll need to complete charts and worksheets found elsewhere in the 20-page instruction booklet. . . .
“The IRS says it does not have an estimate of the time it will take taxpayers to fill out this form. Experts estimate that someone with a complex situation will spend more time on the 8962 than they will filling out all of their other tax forms combined. . . .
“The IRS estimates that about half of the roughly 6 million individuals who got subsidy payments for Obamacare got too much; the rest may actually get additional subsidy payments through boosted tax refunds. . . .
“What if you didn’t get insurance through an ACA exchange? If you are covered elsewhere, either through an employer or a individual plan, you only need to check a box this year, tax officials say. (Next year, additional documentation will be required of everyone.) But if you have no coverage or had a lapse in coverage that lasted more than three months, you’ll need to fill out the form 8965 to determine whether you owe a penalty or can qualify for an exemption.”
After seeing all that, yesterday’s report in The Washington Post makes perfect sense. The Post wrote, “The Obamacare window technically just closed this weekend, but a new round of political headaches could just be beginning for the administration. That’s because it’s tax season, and many Americans could soon be getting an unwelcome surprise that they owe the government a penalty for skipping health insurance coverage. Up to 6 million Americans are expected to pay a penalty for not having coverage in 2014, according to recent Obama administration projections.”
Even more worrying, “it’s likely that a lot of people who will have to pay don’t know it yet,” The Post explains. “Despite the unpopularity of the individual mandate and the high-stakes Supreme Court case over it three years ago, there’s still limited awareness of the penalty among those who could risk triggering it. Nearly half of uninsured Americans weren’t aware of the penalty . . . .
“That means millions of people won’t learn they’ll have to pay the penalty until they file taxes this year, and at that point, it will have been too late to buy 2015 coverage since the enrollment deadline was Feb. 15. The minimum individual mandate penalty more than triples this year, rising to $325, or to 2 percent of income. ‘It’s the fact that if you didn’t apply by Feb. 15, you have no way of escaping the penalty in 2015,’ said Stan Dorn, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. ‘It’s not something that a lot of people have necessarily thought through.’”
Of course, the story notes, “To head off the potential backlash, Democratic lawmakers and groups supporting the health-care law in the past few days have urged the administration to keep the enrollment period open for people who won’t figure out they owe a penalty until it’s too late. . . . The administration seems to be exploring the idea of extending the enrollment period for those dinged by the individual mandate. ‘You’re going to hear from us, one way or another, within the next two weeks on whether that’s something that we would do,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Friday, according to Bloomberg.”
Would this mean another unilateral change to yet another deadline in the law by the Obama administration?
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February 19th, 2015 by Mark Truman ·
“Mr. Kander, a former Army captain, was elected to his current post in 2012 after previously serving as a state legislator and volunteering to serve in Afghanistan.
“Eight years ago, I was here, at the Kansas City Airport,” he says in an announcement video. “I hugged my wife and parents, said goodbye, and left on a journey that would change my life. I’m Jason Kander, and I was an Army Intelligence Officer at U.S. Central Command’s Intelligence Division. But they needed more soldiers in Afghanistan, so I volunteered to go. Today, I’m Missouri’s secretary of state. But back then, in 2006, I was a soldier.” Read more...
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February 18th, 2015 by Mark Truman ·
“The administration’s directives announced in November have been vigorously challenged by Republicans in Congress and across the country, who cite them as examples of what House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has called Obama’s ‘legacy of lawlessness.’”
The Wall Street Journal editors describe this “rebuke” to the White House: “[Judge Andrew Hanen’s] meticulous 123-page ruling is a vindication of the 26 states that brought the challenge and, more significantly, for the rule of law. . . . As he points out, the DHS memos amount to ‘a massive change in immigration practice’ that reorders ‘the nation’s entire immigration scheme.’ Instead of the historical norm of forbearance in individual cases, the memos devote 150 pages to detailing a blanket policy for whole classes of immigrants—meaning that discretion is ‘virtually extinguished,’ as Judge Hanen writes. The memos also actively bestow benefits that Congress never granted, such as the right to work, obtain Social Security numbers, and travel to and from the U.S. . . .
“‘If one accepts the Government’s position,’ Judge Hanen observes, ‘then a lack of resources would be an acceptable reason to cease enforcing environmental laws, or the Voting Rights Act, or even the various laws that protect civil rights and equal opportunity. Its argument is that it has the discretion to cease enforcing an act as long as it does so under the umbrella of prosecutorial discretion.’”
A WSJ news report adds, “Congressional Republicans Tuesday applauded a federal judge in Texas’s order late Monday temporarily blocking implementation of President Barack Obama’s decision last year to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Top Republicans said the Texas injunction validated their concerns that Mr. Obama’s executive action on immigration overstepped his legal bounds. GOP lawmakers have made overturning the immigration action one of their top priorities and have said they won’t extend funding for the Homeland Security Department, which oversees immigration, unless it is reversed.
“‘The president said 22 times he did not have the authority to take the very action on immigration he eventually did, so it is no surprise that at least one court has agreed,’ House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said in a statement Tuesday closely mirrored by one from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).’”
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