Harry Reid Becomes The Only Congressional Leader To Exempt Staffers From Obamacare

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been almost as strong an advocate for Obamacare as President Barack Obama himself, and for just as long. But he’s no fan of watching those close to him endure Obamacare policies and premiums, now that the Affordable Care Act’s implementation is a reality.

CNN reported Wednesday that Reid has exempted some of his staffers from buying health coverage through Obamacare exchanges, allowing them instead to keep their Federal employee insurance plans.

That makes Reid the one and only top Congressional leader to break the spirit of the near-universal pledge among Washington lawmakers to hew to the same Obamacare mandates that Congress has forced upon the rest of the Nation. Fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Republican leaders in both legislative chambers have at least remained in character by requiring their staffs to go on the healthcare exchanges.

But not Reid — despite proclaiming in September that Congress and its staff “are going to be part of the exchanges, that’s what the law says and we’ll be part of that.” Reid himself, along with his personal staff will indeed be on the exchanges. But, according to CNN:

But it’s also true that the law lets lawmakers decide if their committee and leadership staffers hold on to their federal employee insurance plans, an option Reid has exercised.

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson emphasized, “We are just following the law.”

Back in April, Jentleson had emphatically denied that Reid and some members of Congress were discussing, behind the scenes, ways that Congress and staffers could dodge Obamacare. “There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care,” Jentleson told The Hill.

So much for that. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had the snappy comeback on Twitter, where he linked to the CNN article and questioned why Reid wouldn’t want to inflict Obamacare on select staff members:

Ready For Another Snowden Revelation? NSA Collects 5 Billion Cell Phone Location Records Each Day

The latest leak in the ongoing trickle of information Edward Snowden supplied to newspapers about the National Security Agency (NSA) is a whopper: worldwide, the NSA gathers close to 5 billion records on the whereabouts and digital “relationships” of cell phone users each day.

According to The Washington Post, which broke the story Wednesday, the NSA taps directly into the physical backbone of the global telecommunications infrastructure, “enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.”

Here’s more:

The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.

One senior collection manager, speaking on condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data is often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

In scale, scope and potential impact on privacy, the efforts to collect and analyze location data may be unsurpassed among the NSA surveillance programs that have been disclosed since June. Analysts can find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose hidden relationships among individuals using them.

The government, of course, says the surveillance is perfectly legal, since learning things about people’s personal lives – such as whom they’re contacting and what their daily habits are – isn’t a goal, but rather a side effect, of the terror-oriented spying.

“[L]ocation data, especially when aggregated over time, is widely regarded among privacy advocates as uniquely sensitive,” the Post story interjects. “Sophisticated mathematical techniques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not being used to place a call or send a text.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was among the first of what’s certain to be many civil liberty groups to respond to the news Wednesday afternoon, releasing this statement:

It is staggering that a location-tracking program on this scale could be implemented without any public debate, particularly given the substantial number of Americans having their movements recorded by the government. The paths that we travel every day can reveal an extraordinary amount about our political, professional, and intimate relationships. The dragnet surveillance of hundreds of millions of cell phones flouts our international obligation to respect the privacy of foreigners and Americans alike. The government should be targeting its surveillance at those suspected of wrongdoing, not assembling massive associational databases that by their very nature record the movements of a huge number of innocent people.

Proof That Progressives Have Finally Gone Bananas

It’s not in the Constitution — at least not verbatim — but most of us would agree that each able-minded, law-abiding American citizen is a “cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental right not to be imprisoned.”

So what about this guy?

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For the first time, making legal people out of monkeys has become a thing. According to Reuters, an animal rights group has filed the Nation’s first lawsuit to establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees, seeking to have a 26-year-old monkey named Tommy, along with three of his monkey colleagues, set loose from monkey jail in a research facility at Stony Brook University in New York.

From Reuters:

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that Tommy’s “detention” in a “small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed” in central New York is unlawful and demands his immediate release to a primate sanctuary.

Chimpanzees “possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they’re found in human beings,” Steven Wise, the president of Nonhuman Rights Project, told Reuters.

“There’s no reason why they should not be protected when they’re found in chimpanzees,” he added.

The lawsuit on Tommy’s behalf is among three the group is filing this week on behalf of four chimps across New York. The other chimps are Kiko, a 26-year-old chimp living on a private property in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two young male chimps used in research at Stony Brook University on Long Island, the group said.

Wise said the Nonhuman Rights Project is just warming up, pledging to sue and sue and sue until animals are granted legal rights under U.S. law. “These are the first cases in an open-ended, strategic litigation campaign. We’re just going to keep filing suits,” he said.

But Wise didn’t discuss the group’s discriminatory practice of advocating to establish legal rights for some — but not all — members of the animal kingdom. Nor did he divulge whether the group had struck upon a course of action for other inscrutable nonhuman entities such as plants, minerals, solar radiation, television characters, abandoned shipping containers, orphaned websites and baby dolls — which, for all anybody knows, could have people claim, on those entities’ behalf, equally defensible standing for the “legal personhood” designation.

The lawsuit relies on the habeas corpus argument; that is, that a person has the right not to be detained without due process. Problem is, chimps aren’t people. So the Nonhuman Rights Project is seeking to use New York’s (relatively) liberal body of precedent law on the matter in the hope that Tommy and his chimpanzee cohorts will be legally reborn as people — people with inalienable rights.

“The focus here is whether a chimpanzee is a ‘person’ that has access to these laws,” animal law expert David Favre told Reuters.

Americans Believe U.S. Has Lost Respect At Home And Abroad

The second-term slide of President Barack Obama continues to mirror that of his Republican predecessor. The latest parallel between the faltering Obama Administration and the rocky second term of George W. Bush comes courtesy of a new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Released Tuesday, the poll finds a majority of Americans believe that, under Obama, the United States is experiencing a loss of international prestige that closely mimics a similar dip in confidence about America’s place in the world during Bush’s second term.

According to Pew, 70 percent of Americans believe the U.S. has lost the respect of the international community compared with its status a decade ago, a number nearly as high as the results of a similar poll conducted during the Bush era.

In addition, the poll shows that 53 percent of Americans think America’s role as a leader in world affairs has diminished over the last ten years. That’s the lowest statistical ebb of Americans’ confidence in their leaders’ diplomacy in three decades. And 56 percent of Americans said they disapprove of the diplomatic strategy of Obama in particular; 52 percent said they felt the U.S. should “mind its own business” in world affairs. By contrast, only 31 percent said the ongoing American presence in Afghanistan has made the U.S. safer from terrorist threats.

Check out a video synopsis of the poll’s key findings below.

Cops Arrest Kids For Following Coach’s Orders To Wait At Bus Stop

After police in Rochester, New York threatened to arrest three Edison Tech High School athletes who were dutifully waiting for a bus their coach had scheduled for them, the kids didn’t know where to turn. They knew the bus was coming, but they had police telling them their presence at a public bus stop was obstructing the flow of pedestrian traffic while they waited.

If they followed the cops’ orders, they’d miss the bus and, in all probability, be chewed out by their coach. If they followed their coach’s instructions, they’d be arrested. And if they did obey the cops and disperse, where would they even go?

According to WROC,  the three boys were among several basketball teammates last week who’d been instructed by their coach, Jacob Scott, to wait for a school bus that he’d arranged to come pick them up for a scrimmage at a local high school. “There was no school that day and their coach had arranged for a pick-up at a central meeting spot,” the report states.

The kids attempted to explain to the police that their options were kind of limited, and that their presence was the product of adult supervision under the aegis of the public school system, but the police began putting people in handcuffs as coach Scott (who’s also a guidance counselor in the Rochester school district) arrived at the scene.

Scott said he pleaded with the officer to let the boys go, saying he was supervising them.

“He goes on to say, ‘If you don’t disperse, you’re going to get booked as well,'” Scott said. “I said, ‘Sir, I’m the adult. I’m their varsity basketball coach. How can you book me? What am I doing wrong? Matter of fact, what are these guys doing wrong?'”

Scott said a sergeant showed up and backed up his officer.

“One of the police officers actually told me, if he had a big enough caravan, he would take all of us downtown,” Scott said.

The original report on the incident doesn’t make an issue of the students’ race, but subsequent reports, as well as readers’ comments, are filled with righteous indignation over the presumption that the cops would never have treated white kids the way they treated these black students.

Maybe they would have; maybe they wouldn’t. Big deal: what happened happened. The police are adhering to form by standing by their original actions, while every representative of the school district involved in the case is denouncing the cops’ actions – not by playing the race card, but on the merits.

“I think the charges should be immediately dropped and I think the district attorney’s office should be stepping in and looking at these kinds of matters,” said school board member Mary Adams, who attended the students’ arraignments.

A trial is scheduled for Dec. 11.

Double Whammy: Obamacare Might As Well Be A Minimum Wage Hike For Businesses — In Addition To The Real One He’s Supporting

President Barack Obama is on board with fellow Democrats who want to raise the National minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. But even if he doesn’t get his way, the President has already effectively laid the same financial burden on employers, without benefiting actual employees, thanks to Obamacare.

The White House made it known last month that Obama supports a big jump in the mandatory minimum wage, from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10, with future changes tied to the rate of inflation.

That outstrips even Obama’s own earlier ambitions to see minimum wage raised to $9 per hour, as he set forth in his State of the Union address earlier this year. But that ambition has been outdone by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Representative George Miller (D-Calif.), who have introduced the $10.10 proposal in separate, but similar, bills in each chamber of Congress.

Not addressed in either of those measures is the fact that, so far as many employers are concerned, the minimum wage might as well be $10.10 — or higher — for all but the smallest of business owners employing full-time workers. In a revealing study released Nov. 22, The Heritage Foundation took a look at Obamacare’s economic impact on nationwide businesses forced to offer revised healthcare plans that meet the law’s new minimum coverage standards.

What did The Heritage Foundation find?

The government has already effectively raised the minimum wage above $10 per hour — without benefiting workers. President Obama’s health care law requires employers to offer full-time employees health benefits that meet certain “minimum standards” criteria. Otherwise, they pay a penalty. In 2015, this mandate will raise the minimum productivity necessary to hold a full-time job to $10.30 per hour. Employers will lose money if they hire employees who produce less than this amount.

The President now proposes raising the national minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Coupled with the employer penalty and existing taxes, this would raise the minimum cost of hiring a full-time worker to $12.71 per hour. Employers would respond by eliminating jobs and cutting workers to part-time status, making it significantly more difficult for unskilled workers to get ahead.

The Obama Administration would doubtlessly counter that workers will see a direct benefit, in the form of insurance that doesn’t carry lifetime limits or bar coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. But it isn’t the Obama Administration that’s bearing the brunt of the cost increase necessitated by those kinds of guarantees; it’s the private sector — the profit-seeking capitalists who are exposing themselves to the kinds of risk the government hides behind. They’re the very same people Obama famously told weren’t solely responsible for building the Nation’s infrastructure:

If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

But that “somebody else” is not the government; it’s other people who’ve earned money of their own. The government takes from the private sector, producing nothing of its own save for fiat money that exists only as long as people believe it does. The government reapportions, rearranges and fabricates.

Here’s more from The Heritage Foundation:

Obamacare requires many employers with 50 or more employees to offer qualifying health coverage to their full-time workers. This health coverage is expensive. In 2015, it will add $2.24 per hour to the cost of employing a worker with single coverage. Those that do not provide coverage face a fine of $2,000 per employee per year (after the first 30 workers) that comes out of after-tax dollars. This equates to a $3,279 increase in pre-tax payroll costs — $1.64 per hour. The Administration has delayed the mandate’s implementation until 2015. When it takes effect, it will increase the cost of hiring unskilled workers.

These costs are on top of other government mandates. Businesses must also pay the minimum wage, the employer share of payroll taxes, and unemployment insurance (UI) taxes. Normally, businesses defray these costs by reducing workers’ wages by an offsetting amount. However, employers cannot reduce the pay of minimum-wage employees, so they must pay these payroll costs themselves or forgo hiring.

We drive on roads, house our inmates and educate our children (sort of) within a public infrastructure paid for by redistributed private wealth. Now Obama wants us to acquiesce to the same concept in the health insurance realm by forcing employers, who expose themselves to all the risk of the marketplace, to take on an immense increase in the price threshold to procure hired help. And then he wants to add insult to very real financial injury by forcing them pay at least that much more money in real wages.

Obama’s fiscal policy sets new superlatives for the expression “double whammy.”

White House: Food Stamps Grow The Economy; Conservatives Want To Starve Children

The White House posted a special Thanksgiving message to all Americans last week, using the traditional turkey day graphical motifs and autumnal colors. But the message wasn’t one of gratitude – it was one of progressive guilt.

According to the infographic, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which has enrolled 16 million new dependents since President Barack Obama took office, has been an economic boon for the Nation.

In fact, according to the White House’s math, SNAP has actually yielded $9 for every $5 in food stamp money spent at grocery stores, and has even secured full-time employment for a theoretical 8,900 people…sort of.

“It’s estimated that an additional $1 billion in SNAP benefits supports an additional 8,900 to 17,900 full-time equivalent jobs – including 3,000 farm jobs,” the White House offers.

The infographic doesn’t, however, provide a diagram or footnote to indicate the role “an additional $1 billion in SNAP benefits” plays in clarifying the meaning of that sentence. And surely we don’t have 3,000 farm jobs that would die off as soon as Republicans are done emaciating the bloated Farm Bill – right?

SNAPBOOST

It says a lot about the real state of the economy when the White House can declare, without irony, that food stamps are “boosting the economy right now.”

Of course, there can be no progress without guilting the stingy into giving up their share. And so, according to the Obama Administration, House Republicans are trying to scorch the Earth by taking 4 million people (there’ve been 16 million new enrollees in the past five years, remember?) off the dole.

“Legislation passed by House Republicans would cause nearly 4 million Americans to lose access to SNAP next year. For decades, Congress has authorized SNAP in a bipartisan fashion through the Farm Bill. They don’t have to do it in a way that hurts children, seniors, veterans, and vulnerable families.”

For decades, Congress also passed sweeping, transformative legislation in a bipartisan fashion, too. But that was before the Obama/Harry Reid regime.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns Has Its Share Of ‘Illegal’ Mayors

The New York Post recently pointed out an interesting fact about Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), the gun control project started by outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino: Some of its members haven’t fared so well in staying on the right side of all the other laws they’re sworn, as mayors, to uphold.

From DUIs to misdemeanor endangerment charges (involving guns) to plea deals for Federal bribery indictments, the mayors of MAIG don’t always do their part to preserve the group’s squeaky-clean public reputation.

From the Post:

The latest of the legally challenged is Mayor Gordon Jenkins of Monticello, NY. Last week, he was arrested for driving under the influence and for literally punching a police department clock, which forced cops to handcuff him to a chair.

He’s not alone. Over in Spring Valley, Mayor Noramie Jasmin was arrested for accepting bribes from an FBI informant in April. In Marcus Hook, Pa., Mayor James Schiliro was arrested for reckless endangerment after firing a handgun inside his home during a drunken argument.

Down in Gainesville, Fla., Mayor Craig Lowe was charged with a DUI after being found asleep at the scene of a car accident. Meanwhile, other MAIG members from Hartford to Detroit have found themselves facing prosecutors over charges that include felony corruption, assault and attempted sex crimes with a child.

In order, those last three include:

Felony corruption: Former Hartford, Conn., Mayor Eddie A. Perez was convicted three years ago  of receiving a bribe, being an accessory to the fabrication of evidence, conspiracy to fabricate evidence, conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny by extortion and criminal attempt to commit first-degree larceny by extortion.

Assault: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded no contest to assaulting or obstructing a public officer in 2008 as part of a larger plea deal that also saw him resign from office and plead guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice.

Attempted Sex Crimes With A Child: In 2010, former Racine, Wis., Mayor Gary Becker got three years in prison following a sensational scandal in which he was arrested after agreeing on the Internet to meet a child for sex at a Milwaukee mall. Becker was charged with attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child under 16 years of age, possession of child pornography, child enticement, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, attempt to expose a child to harmful material and misconduct in office.

NFL Won’t Air Gun Manufacturer’s Super Bowl Commercial

The NFL has rejected a paid Super Bowl commercial from firearm manufacturer Daniel Defense, even though the spot appears not to violate the league’s policy on weapons advertising because the commercial in question makes no mention of firearms. The commercial would have aired during Super Bowl XLVIII in February.

According to Guns & Ammo magazine, the commercial was designed with the advertising policies of many television markets in mind, and does not portray the use of weapons or feature any of the company’s products. Rather, it focuses on family protection. Its only visual representation of weaponry is a brief silhouette of the company’s DDM4 rifle as the commercial fades out.

From Guns & Ammo:

The NFL’s Advertising Policy addresses several Prohibited Advertising Categories, including guidelines for ads featuring alcohol, video games, movies, prescription drugs, and, of course, firearms.

The firearms portion of the NFL’s Prohibited Advertising Categories states:

“5. Firearms, ammunition or other weapons are prohibited; however, stores that sell firearms and ammunitions (e.g., outdoor stores and camping stores) will be permitted, provided they sell other products and the ads do not mention firearms, ammunition or other weapons.”

According to these guidelines, Daniel Defense’s Super Bowl commercial does not violate NFL policy for two reasons:

Daniel Defense has a brick-and-mortar store, where they sell products other than firearms such as apparel.

The commercial itself does not mention firearms, ammunition or weaponry.

Since the silhouette of the rifle seemed to be the sticking point, Daniel Defense told the league it would replace the image of the weapon with one of the American flag, or with a quote from the 2nd Amendment.

No dice — the NFL flatly rejected that offer, too.

But the league did allow this ad, bought by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, to air in targeted markets during the Super Bowl last year:

A Third Colorado Senator Throws In The Towel Over Gun Control: Hudak Resigns Instead Of Facing Voter Recall

Democrat Evie Hudak watched in September as Colorado voters sent two of her party colleagues in the State Senate home. Like them, Hudak had supported gun control legislation earlier this year that left many Coloradans angry — angry enough to force two successful recall votes against prominent Democratic supporters of the law.

Hudak, herself the target of a petition to hold a recall vote, would have learned on Dec. 3 whether the petition had gathered enough signatures. But she evidently saw the writing on the wall: On Wednesday, without waiting for the petition to be submitted, she resigned her Senate seat.

Hudak’s resignation means she will avoid the humiliating experience that Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron endured. Morse and Giron chose to fight voters’ recall efforts, both in the courts and on the campaign trail. Each had ardently supported gun control. Each was recalled on Sept. 10 and replaced by a Republican.

If Hudak had lost a recall vote, control of the State Senate would have flipped from Democratic to Republican. Hudak and the State’s Democratic Party leadership decided that avoiding that scenario was sufficient justification for her to resign.

From Fox 31 in Denver:

By resigning before the signatures are turned in, she assures that a Democratic vacancy committee will appoint her replacement, keeping the seat — and the senate — in the party’s hands, at least through November [2014], when her successor will be forced to win reelection.

State law says that an office-holder can resign up to five days after the Secretary of State deems signatures sufficient to force a recall election, but it’s possible a judge could disagree and allow an election to go forward.

Given their track record in court, Democrats decided not to take that risk.

Hudak did herself no favors in the political fallout that ensued following Governor John Hickenlooper’s signing of the gun control measures back in March. She seemed insensitive and out of touch with reality when she tried to redirect a rape victim who testified to the Senate that her ordeal would not have happened if she’d been allowed to carry a legal firearm on a college campus.

From the Denver Post:

Gun-rights activists in Colorado and nationally ripped Hudak for her inartful questioning of a rape victim during a hearing in March on a bill to ban weapons on campus. The woman told lawmakers that had she been permitted to use her concealed-carry permit and carry her gun on campus, the incident may have ended differently.

Hudak disagreed.

“I just want to say that, actually statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun,” Hudak said, during the hearing. “And, chances are that if you would have had a gun, then he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you.”

Of that comment, we wrote at the time:

It isn’t clear where Hudak got her numbers, but FBI statistics indicate that firearm use for self-defense outnumbers criminal firearm use 4-to-1. Of the 2.1 million times firearms are used in self-defense annually, 1.9 cases involve handguns and 10 percent involve women fending off sexual predators.

Also according to FBI numbers, there were an estimated 83,425 forcible rapes reported to law enforcement in 2011. Females age 16 to 24 have the highest likelihood of becoming the victim of rape — two to three times higher.

All The Ways Michelle Obama And Other Progressives Want To Ruin Your Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, as you’re sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal and catching up with your loved ones, perhaps you’d like to awkwardly disrupt the holiday with a partisan monologue about what a blessing Obamacare is.

At least that’s what Michelle Obama and an array of affiliated progressive groups want you to do. The First Lady is encouraging her husband’s supporters at Organizing for Action to bring up Obamacare to family members who’d rather be chowing down on turkey.

“As you spend time with loved ones this holiday season, be sure to talk with them about what health reform can mean for them,” she wrote OFA members in a fundraising note. “OFA has some tips to help get the ball rolling…Make a pledge to have a conversation with your family about health insurance this holiday season.”

She goes on to list 14 talking points for Obama supporters who want to leave one in the Thanksgiving punchbowl by talking about Obamacare while everyone else is trying to watch football.

Among her helpful hints:

PICK A TIME

Start early: Don’t wait until the last minute—be sure to start the conversation early!

Integrate the talk into family time: Take advantage of downtime after meals or between holiday activities to start your talk.

THINK ABOUT HOW YOU’LL BRING IT UP

Make it personal: Be honest about your feelings and why this is important to you.

Be persistent, but keep it positive: Tell them you care about their health, and focus on the benefits that come from knowing that you have health insurance.

CHOOSE A PLACE

Get creative: Think about what matters to your family member. Make it memorable!

Find a quiet Place to Shop: You can start your conversation anywhere, but to shop for health coverage, you will want a more quiet, private place to make a phone call or use the internet.

CONVERSATION TIPS

Start by asking: “Have you thought about signing up for health insurance on the new marketplace?”

Offer to walk them through it: “Would you like to take some time with me to sign up right now?”

Ask them to make a plan, and commit to it: “When do you plan on signing up?”

Don’t forget to follow up: “Have you signed up yet?”

If you’re an Obamacare evangelist who’s running up against a particularly quarrelsome conservative curmudgeon in the family, those talking points may not be enough. That’s why the Democratic National Committee launched the “Democrat’s guide to talking politics with your Republican uncle” website.

Yourrepublicanuncle.com evidently has the Republican demographic nailed, since it’s targeted at the opinionated geezers who collectively present the only ideological opposition to socialism’s forward progress in the U.S.

The site doesn’t just vouch for Obamacare, but covers all the bases in protecting Barack Obama’s cult of personality. Whether it’s immigration, Obamacare, climate change or the economy, yourrepublicanuncle.com offers the progressive cheat sheet that Obama’s foot soldiers can use to vindicate his Presidency.

So even if there’s a giant turkey waiting for your family on the table tomorrow, you’ll have an even bigger one on your hands if you’re related to someone crazy enough to take the First Lady’s advice.

Safe, Secure, Reliable: That’s Not Obamacare

Officials admitted late last week that Vermont Health Connect, the health exchange website that handles the State’s Obamacare enrollment, was breached by a user who was able to obtain private information about another applicant — including that person’s Social Security number.

According to The Associated Press, which reported on the security breach after learning the Health Connect website’s privacy advocate had warned Federal Medicaid officials about the incident, the person who was able to breach the site’s security evidently wished only to demonstrate that the site wasn’t robust enough to trust with one’s personal information.

The person whose information was improperly breached received a letter in the mail days after visiting the Health Connect website. Inside was a copy of the application for insurance coverage he’d submitted while on the website, along with a handwritten message on the outside of the envelope: “VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT IS NOT A SECURE WEBSITE!” The same handwritten message also appeared on the back of one of the enclosed pages.

The incident was originally reported to the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Oct. 17, but was confirmed after The AP requested — and obtained — a copy under Vermont public records law.

The commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access told the news agency the incident was the product of “unique circumstances” and represented the only security breach the site had experienced.

The commissioner, David Larson, had testified on Nov. 5 on the site’s general performance before the Vermont House Health Care Committee, assuring lawmakers at that time that no one’s private information had been breached since the site went live.

After news of the incident began reverberating throughout the Internet over the weekend, Larson wrote a letter apologizing for the lie to Committee Chairman Mike Fisher.

The State official overseeing the Vermont Health Connect health insurance exchange has apologized for not being fully candid when a legislator asked him during a committee hearing if there had been security breaches on the website.

“[I] should have instead also included in my response the facts of this single incident, and am sorry that my statements to the committee did not do so,” Larson wrote.

“I was asked about whether any security failures had occurred in Vermont Health Connect,” Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, said of his testimony Nov. 5 to the Vermont House Health Care Committee.

“I responded that no situation had occurred where somebody’s private information had been breached,” he added in a letter of apology to the committee’s chairman, State Representative Mike Fisher. The letter was dated Sunday and made public Monday.

In a statement Monday, Governor Peter Shumlin (D) said he had been briefed on the security breach, which investigators said was neither intentional nor malicious. Shumlin criticized Larson for the misleading testimony.

“I take this incident extremely seriously. It is unacceptable to be anything less than fully cooperative and transparent with Vermonters and their elected representatives in the Legislature. I am tremendously disappointed in Commissioner Larson’s lapse of judgment in this matter,” Shumlin said. “This incident was promptly identified and resolved, and I was disappointed to learn that Commissioner Larson did not adequately disclose the circumstances of it when asked about this topic in committee earlier this month.”

Vermont’s health exchange has been one of the more successful efforts to enroll those eligible for care. The State said that by Nov. 10 it had signed up 3,500 people, about 12 percent of those expected to enroll, according to a study by Avalere Health cited by NBC News.

‘I Won’t Enforce It’: Pro-2nd Amendment Stance Helps New York Sheriff Dominate In Re-Election Bid

Back in May, one county sheriff pledged not to enforce the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, a bill that came early in the post-Newtown backlash of knee-jerk gun control legislation that swept through the Nation’s social progressivism outposts.

That sheriff, Tim Howard of Erie County, signed on to a lawsuit against the SAFE Act along with other New York sheriffs, and famously told The Buffalo News: “I won’t enforce it.”

Howard was up for re-election this year, and he faced two opponents in the general election in early November. But Howard’s stance on gun control resonated with Erie County voters. Here’s how The Buffalo News revisited Howard’s political arc after he won his third term in office:

Four words that he uttered at a news conference last May helped Timothy B. Howard win a third term as Erie County sheriff.

The words were “I won’t enforce it,” and Howard was talking about the SAFE Act, a controversial new state firearms law that has outraged gun owners.

The support of angry firearms owners helped the Republican sheriff to a big win Tuesday over his Democratic Party opponent, retired Sheriff’s Deputy Richard E. Dobson, and Sheriff’s Lt. Bert D. Dunn, a Law and Order Party candidate who lost the Democratic nomination in the September primary.

…Late Tuesday night, a jubilant Howard thanked his supporters and leaders of the Republican and Conservative parties for helping him win. He said people all over Erie County have thanked him for his stand on the gun issue.

“I did what I thought was the right thing to do,” Howard told The Buffalo News. “People in Western New York feel strongly about the Constitution and Albany’s misreading of it.”

The Erie County sheriff’s office is reportedly the largest local police force in western New York, with 1,000 employees and a budget that tops $100 million. Howard’s position at the center of the sheriffs’ collective rebuttal to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who pushed hard for the SAFE Act’s swift passage into law, has been a high-profile one.

Howard went a step further than many of his law enforcement peers in New York, filing an amicus curiae brief on behalf of New York sheriffs attached to the SAFE Act lawsuit. The suit, originally brought in Federal court by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, claims the law infringed on citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights. The suit is ongoing.

Howard never took a defiant position against the SAFE Act in his own county; he simply said he would not initiate any enforcement proceedings that would bring the State into an adversarial relationship with citizens who choose to violate it, because the Nation’s founding documents take precedence over subsequent laws that abrogate their instructions.

“The Constitution is the law of the land,” Howard said in May. “If you know it’s a violation of the Constitution, how can you enforce it? … I don’t think we’re going to suppress evidence; I just don’t think we’ll be actively pursuing it.”

Obama Wishes He Could Bypass Congress On Immigration (And Budgets, And Gun Control, And Everything Else)

President Barack Obama may be out on the rubber-chicken circuit to convince America he won’t attempt an end run around Congress to accomplish his agenda through executive fiat, but it’s visibly evident that’s a painful promise for him to make.

Here he is trying to get tough on a heckler Monday, whom he patently agreed with on immigration reform:

The heckler told Obama he could resolve the ongoing Congressional debate over immigration law because the President has the power, by executive order, to grant amnesty to illegal aliens living in the U.S.

“Actually I don’t. And that’s why we’re here,” Obama said. “…If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing them through Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a Nation of laws; that’s part of our tradition. And so, the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you wanna achieve, but it won’t be as easy as just shouting.”

It’s not the first time the Obama Administration has wistfully daydreamed, out loud, about what Obama could do if only he were king.

“What I will say is that this is not the President’s idealized budget,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney back in April. “It is not what he would do if he were king, or if only people who supported his proposals were in Congress. It was what he believes is a fair and balanced approach to our deficit challenges.”

And it’s not as though Obama hasn’t resorted to the heavy-handed approach in the past. It’s just that, in the midst of an Obamacare meltdown that’s galvanizing some red-State Democrats against him, the likelihood of profound political blowback is far greater than it was, say, back in August, when the President passed two executive orders to close two gun control “loopholes.”

So he’s now paying lip service, even to his own supporters, to the truth that executive orders aren’t the answer. But what will happen if Democrats do well in 2014, or if Obama’s approval numbers climb back above 50 percent?

Will The Government Bail Out Insurers Crippled By Obamacare?

What happens to the health insurance market if the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t sign up the 7 million people it targeted for Obamacare between now and March 31, 2014? Insurance companies are in business to turn a profit, aren’t they?

When Obamacare fails to hit its enrollment goal (an inevitability even its supporters aren’t trying to spin), there will be millions of Americans without health insurance and dozens of insurance companies facing massive losses. But buried somewhere in the Affordable Care Act’s more than 10,000 pages is the bailout: risk adjustment, Federal government style.

Obamacare’s “risk corridor” proviso is receiving more attention since President Barack Obama’s “administrative fix” announcement last week, when he called on insurers to accept his invitation to continue offering policies to customers who’d already been dropped under Obamacare’s new rules.

Insurance companies instantly balked at the President’s announcement, because they’d already invested a lot of time and money in negotiating new pricing schemes in each State, while simultaneously waving farewell to lost revenues under their old pricing structure. So HHS stepped in to clarify exactly what the President meant.

“Though this transitional policy was not anticipated by health insurance issuers when setting rates for 2014, the risk corridor program should help ameliorate unanticipated changes in premium revenue,” HHS wrote to insurance regulators.

“Risk corridors,” writes Bloomberg Businessweek, “are part of an obscure set of Obamacare rules intended to protect insurance companies from deep losses if they sign up too many sick people — an insurance policy for insurance companies. It’s one of the so-called Three Rs — reinsurance, risk adjustment and risk corridors — meant to backstop health plans through byzantine adjustments in the transition to a new marketplace where carriers can’t turn sick people away.

Here’s more from Bloomberg:

The third program, called risk corridors, is a temporary way to limit insurers’ potential losses and profits. It applies only to insurers selling plans on the health exchanges. The mechanics are complex, but the gist is this: If it turns out a health plan set its rates too high — collecting much more in premiums than it paid out — the carrier pays a portion of the excess to the government. On the other hand, if insurers set rates too low, the government will backstop some of their losses.

That in itself doesn’t promise insurers a bailout — let alone a government-money gravy train. But the risk corridors program, like the rest of the pricing regulations set in place by Obamacare, were envisioned as “budget-neutral” rules that function only when the right mix of people sign up for insurance.

But the right mix of people isn’t signing up for Obamacare. There are far too few people in the total pool, and of those few who have signed up, there’s a disproportionate number whose medical needs exceed those of the average customer.

That, wrote Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last week, leaves the Federal government obligated to essentially bail out insurance companies that won’t see profits under Obamacare’s new coverage mandates.

Here’s a portion of Rubio’s Nov. 18 column in The Wall Street Journal:

Risk corridors are generally used to mitigate an insurer’s pricing risk. Under ObamaCare, risk corridors were established for the law’s first three years as a safety-net for insurers who experience financial losses. While risk corridors can protect taxpayers when they are budget-neutral, ObamaCare’s risk corridors are designed in such an open-ended manner that the president’s action now exposes taxpayers to a bailout of the health-insurance industry if and when the law fails.

Subsequent regulatory rulings have made clear that the administration views this risk-corridor authority as a blank check, requiring no further consultation or approval by Congress. A final rule handed down in March by HHS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services states: “Regardless of the balance of payments and receipts, HHS will remit payments as required under section 1342 of the Affordable Care Act.”

Rubio has introduced a bill, the “Obamacare Bailout Prevention Act,” to repeal the risk corridor proviso from the Affordable Care Act.

Is The EPA Taking Aim At Your Property By Reinventing The Clean Water Act?

A proposed draft rule from the Environmental Protection Agency could expand the number of waterways covered under the Clean Water Act. The proposal is eliciting strong opposition from property owners and conservative legislators who say the rule would pave the way for Federal oversight of small-scale building projects and private land use on private property.

The EPA is denying that this is the case, claiming the new proposal doesn’t aim to expand the Federal agency’s jurisdiction or reach farther than the Clean Water Act presently does.

Technically, that appears to be true. But the devil is in the details.

A 2006 Supreme Court ruling called for the EPA to demonstrate more thorough scientific documentation in claiming protection under the Clean Water Act for small waterways or isolated lakes, ponds and wetlands. In order for the EPA to halt development of such a site, it should demonstrate that the isolated waterway is in fact located within the “significant nexus” of nearby protected navigable waters.

“Significant nexus” — what a phrase.

The proposed rule, supporters claim, simply follows through on the court’s interpretation of the law. But, by leaving all of the interpretative leeway of that phrase in the hands of the EPA, it’s not difficult to envision the agency claiming new oversight of ravines, seasonal creeks and other runoff points on private lands because, under the new interpretation, the Clean Water Act of 1972 really gave the EPA jurisdiction over all those things in the first place.

That already doesn’t sit well with the agricultural industry, and some Congressional Republicans say it shouldn’t sit well with anyone who owns rural property.

National Hog Farmer magazine reports that the rule is facing strong opposition from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), which represents farmers who fear they will soon face a new and costly layer of Federal regulation just to continue doing business as they’ve always done.

NPPC says the draft regulation would bring under CWA [Clean Water Act] jurisdiction man-altered and man-made water bodies, including farm ditches, tile drainage and field filter strips. Even wetlands that are “many miles away” from jurisdictional water could be regulated, according to NPPC.

The Supreme Court has limited EPA’s and the Corps’ jurisdiction under the CWA in several instances, ruling that it cannot be based on a mere connection to a navigable water or extend to waters far removed from navigable waters.

If the draft rule becomes final in its current form, NPPC says that EPA and the Corps [of Engineers] could potentially have jurisdiction over large tracts of state and private lands, and CWA permits would be required for a host of activities on them. Farmers could be required to obtain permits to apply manure, fertilizer or pesticides, for example.

All water flows downhill. If the EPA can retroactively extend the meaning of the Clean Water Act to include, as Bloomberg’s Amena H. Saiyid phrased it, “all natural and artificial tributary streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands that affect the chemical, physical and biological integrity of larger, downstream navigable waters,” there’s really not a square inch of land open to any use at all without first clearing a new set of hurdles.

And, an expansion of EPA jurisdiction could also give environmental groups standing to file lawsuits against any activity of any scope — from barn raising to small-scale organic farming to rock crushing — if it can claim anything on the land falls under Federal protection. In theory, someone who’s been raising a small brood of hens at his hilltop farmhouse could find himself at the defending end of an environmental lawsuit if watchdog groups can find incriminating levels of nitrates anywhere beneath the land.

“A draft rule obtained by the Science Committee is a massive expansion of EPA regulatory authority over private property, giving the agency jurisdiction over almost all man-made and natural streams, lakes and ponds in the U.S.,” wrote Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) earlier this month. “[S]uch a power grab undermines states’ rights and increases federal control of private property that ‘could lead to the EPA telling us what to do in our own back yard.’”

McConnell: Punch Tea Party “In The Nose”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) evidently has a plan for the 2014 midterm Congressional elections: punch the Tea Party in the nose.

The comment came to light today via Breitbart, following an interview with a GOP donor who said he heard McConnell’s remark during an Oct. 30 conference call hosted by Karl Rove’s Crossroads donor group.

On the call, according to a donor who was on it, McConnell personally named Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as Tea Party conservatives he views as problematic for him. “The bulk of it was an attack on the Tea Party in general, Cruz in particular,” the source, a prominent donor, said in a phone interview with Breitbart News.

But the most memorable line came at the end of the call.

“McConnell said the Tea Party was ‘nothing but a bunch of bullies,’” the source said. “And he said ‘you know how you deal with schoolyard bullies? You punch them in the nose and that’s what we’re going to do.’”

The source said Rove was less vivid in his remarks, but essentially agreed with McConnell that Tea Party conservatism needs to be relegated to the margins as part of the GOP’s 2014 center-line campaign strategy.

The revelation comes just one day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wielded majority power to castrate Senate Republicans’ powers, and Senate procedure along with it.

In light of Reid’s invocation of the filibuster-ending nuclear option, and the failure of Republican leaders to counter by withholding unanimous consent on the rest of the day’s business, “an aide to a Tea Party lawmaker said that McConnell’s focus on trying to go after the Tea Party has jeopardized Senate Republicans’ chances at actually beating Democrats.”

Red State persuasively argues the Tea Party isn’t the problem; McConnell’s weak leadership is:

Instead of fighting fire with fire, McConnell is basically saying we can’t do anything until after the elections:

“The solution to this problem is an election,” McConnell said at a Thursday press conference after the Senate voted to go nuclear, changing the rules of the filibuster.

“The solution to this problem’s at the ballot box,” McConnell said. “We look forward to having a great election in November 2014.” […]

“I don’t think this is a time to be talking about a reprisal,” he said. “I think it’s at time to be sad about what’s been done to the United States Senate.” [Daily Caller]

I’m sure Harry Reid is scared to death.

There is one simple thing Republicans can do to retaliate.  They can start by ending the Democrat super-majority on legislative issues.  They can easily pledge to filibuster every piece of legislation and deny all requests for unanimous consent until the rules change is overturned.

…Harry Reid has identified a soft target.  And until we change GOP leadership in the Senate, he will keep punching.

We’ve seen that the most loyal servants in President Barack Obama’s partisan army don’t reward true negotiating overtures or understand the time-tested, workaday dance of give-and-take. For the GOP to accomplish anything in the current Congress, it needs leaders who are willing to hew to the party’s core values and take a stand. It isn’t the Tea Party McConnell should want to punch “in the nose” – it’s the Democrats who are leading him about with the ring they’ve stuck in his.

Report: Wealthy Nations Have Too Many People On Antidepressants

The developed world has seen an immense increase in the use of antidepressant drugs as prescriptions for nonessential, quality-of-life medications continue to fly out of physicians’ hands.

That summarizes one finding in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s  (OECD) “Health at a Glance” report for 2013. OECD, an international economic group headquartered in Paris, is composed of members representing 34 nations that collectively seek to promote the spread of democracy and “policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” It was born from the post-World War II European economic bloc tasked with implementing the Marshall Plan.

The OECD’s report reveals that physicians in many developed countries now prescribe medication for one out of every 10 people, while in the United States, more than one in 10 people obtain some form of medication to treat symptoms of depression. Meanwhile, the report finds that rates of depression worldwide haven’t gone up; rather, doctors just seem to be writing more prescriptions for antidepressants than ever before.

OECD says the report raises “concerns about [the] appropriateness” of overprescribing these types of medications, which entered the market as treatments for the most severe cases of depression, as a stopgap alternative to non-medical therapies such as counseling and cognitive behavior therapy.

From the report:

[R]ising consumption levels can also be explained by the extension of the set of indications of some antidepressants to milder forms of depression, generalized anxiety disorders or social phobia. These extensions have raised concerns about appropriateness. Changes in the social acceptability and willingness to seek treatment during episodes of depression may also contribute to increased consumption.

Doctors and academics critical of the increasing ubiquity of quality-of-life drugs aren’t surprised by the report’s findings.

“Antidepressants are widely oversubscribed to get rid of unhappiness,” Professor Tim Cantopher, a consultant psychiatrist in Britain, told South African newspaper Mail & Guardian. “They were not designed for that. Unhappiness is part of the human condition. But real clinical depression does respond to antidepressants.”

House Blocks Obama Administration’s Fracking Regulations

In a bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives decided Wednesday to block White House regulations on fracking (hydraulic fracturing), citing the fact that States already regulate the practice and that an extra layer of Federal red tape will only slow America’s re-emerging oil and natural gas economy.

Supported by 12 Democrats and opposed by two Republicans, Wednesday’s 235-187 passage of H.R. 2728 represents an early symbolic defeat for President Barack Obama, who has proposed that fracking on Federal lands should be regulated by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The President has, of course, threatened to veto the bill, if it survives a more arduous trip through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Prior to the vote, House Republicans said it doesn’t make sense for Obama to attempt to fix a policy that isn’t broken.

“Hydraulic fracturing has been safely and effectively regulated by States for decades. So the Obama Administration’s proposed regulations are unnecessary,” said Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. “They’re redundant, and it simply wastes precious time and money duplicating what is already being done successfully.”

The bill specifically forbids the Department of the Interior from enforcing any Federal regulation on hydraulic fracturing on Federal lands, as well as on tribal lands that regulate the exploitation of their own mineral resources.

It also requires the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study on the environmental impact of fracking that takes into account the efficacy of regulatory practices set in place by the States.

Ted Cruz’ Answer To Obamacare: ‘Expand Competition’

In a sometimes-fiery exchange with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) dodged ad hominem insults to bring out a point that’s so far fallen on deaf ears – both among Congressional Democrats, as well as the moderate Republicans who prefer staging political stalemates to shaping meaningful policy reforms.

His point? Conservatives have been pushing for a while now to reverse Obamacare’s market-constricting mandates by freeing the insurance industry to sell competing policies across State lines.

“[Y]ou want a positive, affirmative solution? You know, the single best thing we can do is expand competition,” said Cruz. “Let people purchase health insurance across state lines. If you want to expand access, what you want to do is increase choices and drive down cost.

“What Obamacare does is decreases choices and drives up cost. It doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t working.”

Harry Reid To Force Nuclear Option, Change Senate Rules, Cut A Path For Obama Nominees UPDATE: Rules Changed

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is moving forward with the so-called “nuclear option” to end filibusters by minority-party opponents of proposed legislation, a move designed to give President Barack Obama’s current batch of nominees a cakewalk through the Senate confirmation process.

Senate Democrats are expected to force a vote today, despite procedural attempts by Republicans to have the vote forestalled.

“The change we propose today would ensure executive and judicial nominations an up or down vote on confirmation,” said Reid. “Yes or no. The rule change will make cloture for all nominations other than the Supreme Court, the majority the threshold vote, yes or no.” Reid described the no-filibuster rule as a necessary measure to end partisan gridlock and “evolve” the Senate. “It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the decision, a product of transitory political expediency, would come back to haunt Reid and the Democratic majority.

“I realize this sort of wishful thinking might appeal to the uninitiated newcomers in the Democratic conference who served exactly zero days in the minority, but the rest of you guys should know better,” McConnell said.

“The Majority Leader promised over and over again that he wouldn’t break the rules of the Senate to change the Senate,” McConnell also said. “When Democrats were in the minority they argued strenuously for the very thing they now say we will have to do without, namely the right to extend a debate on lifetime appointments. In other words they believe that one set of rules should apply to them and another set to everybody else.”

The Senate is reportedly well-attended today, with “almost every Senator… at his or her desk in recognition of the significance of the moment.”

Under the “nuclear option,” the Senate would change its rules of procedure so that Presidential nominees could be confirmed on a simple majority vote, undercutting the 60-vote majority needed to break a filibuster opposing the nominations. The Reid proposal is expected to affect Presidential nominations for judicial and executive-branch appointments, but not Supreme Court nominations.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), about as conciliatory an adversary as Senate Democrats could hope for, was evidently beginning to see the light Thursday, telling reporters, “This changes everything; this changes everything.”

UPDATE:

In a 52-48 vote, the Senate dramatically changed its rules to limit the minority Party’s ability to filibuster and prevent the confirmation of Presidential nominees. Only three Democrats, Senator’s Carl Levin (Mich.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), voted against Majority Leader Reid’s proposal.

The change will clear the way for confirmation of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals along with his nomination of Representative Mel Watt to a housing regulatory agency appointment.

“It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

“The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken. And I agree.”

Minority Leader McConnell said that the Democrats had simply picked a fake fight over the Federal judgeships in order to distract Americans from the problems plaguing Obamacare.

“It only reinforces the narrative of a party willing to do or say just about anything to get its way,” said McConnell.

Republicans have been critical of the Democrats’ embrace of the nuclear option since lawmakers on the left gained control of the Senate in 2006.

In 2005, GOP Senators threatened to employ a similar tactic in order to move some of President George W. Bush’s nominees.

“To change the rules in the Senate can’t be done by a simple majority. It can only be done if there is extended debate by 67 votes,” Reid said in May 2005.

“They are talking about doing something illegal. They are talking about breaking the rules to change the rules, and that is not appropriate. That is not fair, and it is not right,” he said in April of that year.

 

* Sam Rolley contributed to this report.