Obamacare Has Little Appeal For The Uninsured

Few uninsured Americans believe Obamacare is a worthy solution for their healthcare coverage needs. And only a quarter of them even know when the government expects them to sign up for health insurance, despite massive advertising campaigns that feature irresponsible idiots attempting to make Obamacare look cool as they go about their vapid lives.

The results of the latest Kaiser Family Foundation monthly tracking survey reveal an ongoing combination of ignorance, indifference and mild revulsion toward Obamacare among the uninsured.

Perhaps the key takeaway is that only 22 percent of uninsured Americans hold a favorable opinion of the healthcare law, while 56 percent hold an unfavorable view. Yet the negativity hasn’t managed to reach the level of a critical consensus demanding that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed.

From the poll summary:

Overall public opinion on the ACA in February looks much like it has since last November, with nearly half (47 percent) having an unfavorable view of the law and just over a third (35 percent) viewing it favorably. A plurality of the public (44 percent) say their impression of the law is based mostly on what they’ve seen in the media, while smaller shares say it’s based on their own experience (23 percent) or what they’ve heard from friends and family (18 percent).

… When it comes to next steps on the law, a majority say it should be kept in place, including 48 percent who want Congress to work to improve it and 8 percent who say it should be kept as is. Fewer say Congress should repeal the law and replace it with a Republican-sponsored alternative (12 percent) or repeal it and not replace it (19 percent).

… Last month’s tracking poll found a negative shift in opinion of the ACA among those who are currently uninsured, and that trend continues in February, with 56 percent of the uninsured having an unfavorable opinion of the law and 22 percent a favorable one.

Among those who don’t have insurance, there’s an ocean of indifference. Half of the uninsured surveyed said they don’t know enough about Obamacare to know how the law will affect them. Thirty-seven percent admitted to knowing “only a little” about the glitch-plagued Obamacare online exchanges. And 26 percent said they know “nothing.” Only 24 percent said they know the Federal deadline for signing up. (It’s March 31.)

Kaiser Family Foundation monthly tracking survey

According to the monthly tracking poll, public opinion toward Obamacare among both insured and uninsured Americans  veered into negative territory in November 2012 and, with minor fluctuations, has trended downward ever since. It now stands at 47 percent unfavorable, 35 percent unfavorable and 18 percent who say they don’t know or don’t wish to weigh in.

Perceptions of the Affordable Care Act have been trending negative among people without health insurance since February. Tuesday’s poll found that 56 percent now view the law unfavorably, while 22 percent view it favorably.

Note from the Editor:
As you’ve just read, the Obamacare abomination doesn’t bode well for anyone. But if you know how to navigate the system you can still control your own healthcare—as every American should! My trusted friend and medical insider, Dr. Michael Cutler, and I have written a concise guide to help you do just that. I urge you… Click here for your free copy.

Venezuelan Opposition Leader’s Letter To Pope Francis Puts Our Domestic ‘Problems’ In Perspective

While establishment leaders from both parties and their many hangers-on in mainstream media feed the 24-hour consumer news cycle with banal and insipid debates about partisan wars on women, homosexuals, minorities and the poor, there are people outside the U.S. who would love to have our problems – and who would likely be confused by the political games Americans lawmakers play with non-issues in order to incite indignity in ignorant voters.

Take Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez’ successor, Nicolas Maduro, is alternating between free-market threats and populist-pandering bread and circuses in order to quell an ongoing uprising that has killed at least 50 people and featured police state treatment in the face of popular protest.

Forget gay marriage and minimum wage: Maduro has declared war on basic human rights – private property, free speech, self-determination and peaceful dissent. People in Venezuela don’t have the sort of problems our elected class tries to convince us we have – they have problems that don’t have to be explained by enlightened interpreters. And many of the fundamental problems Americans do face are buffered from the meddling of most elected leaders, safe from legislative adjustment and secreted from the 24-hour news cycle and its vapid talking heads. Our problems are a slow suck toward tyranny, but there are places in the world where we can see in real time where we might be headed.

Read this appeal to Pope Francis, penned last week by Venezuelan opposition leader (and Princeton educated) Leopoldo Mendoza, for some perspective on what a real war on freedom looks like. It sure as hell doesn’t look like a “war on women” or some such similar nonsense in this country:

His Holiness

Pope Francisco

Supreme Pontiff

With deep admiration and full of humility, I ask your blessings to the people of Venezuela in moments of profound difficulty for all Venezuelans hit by the most severe economic crisis, by insecurity accompanied by unleashed impunity and the loss increasingly accelerated of our freedoms for all Venezuelans, especially those of us who have contrary thoughts to those who govern today.

I am writing this letter from the underground and within a few hours of appearing before the manipulated justice of my country, which has issued an arrest warrant attributing against me the crimes of murder and terrorism, for the simple fact of having called our people to exercise our right to protest as it is protected in our Constitution and the fundamental rights of free men. This situation of persecution and criminalization of protest has affected hundreds of youth who have been detained, tortured and subjected to unfounded processes that seek to plant fear and limit the voice of millions of Venezuelans who promote change.

I have taken the audacity to write these lines because I am convinced, as millions are in Venezuela , that your voice , your guidance and your blessing to our people at this time can make a profound impact on the next destination of our country.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to talk with the Polish leader Lech Walesa, who I asked what was the most decisive event in his years long struggle that culminated with the fall of communism, his response was immediate and very precise: The visit and the message of John Paul II to Poland.

I understand that the historical circumstances are very different , but like the twilight years of communism in Europe, now in Venezuela we are living in times of deep despair and hopelessness, a word, a sentence, a message from you I’m sure could make a significant impact, the encounter of our people with peace, liberty and democracy.

Chances are when you read this letter I will already be jailed on the orders of Nicolas Maduro; a situation that I ‘m willing to take on if in something it contributes to awaken our people on the need to together make a change.

With the mere fact that you read these lines and keep a place in your heart for the Venezuelan people will give us immense strength to move forward, guided by the teachings of Christ our Lord.

Benediction,

Leopoldo López Mendoza

Sure enough, López was arrested the next day.

Economic Stimulus, Round 2: Obama Proposes ARRA-Lite

Only a week removed from the five-year anniversary of the $830 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package, President Barack Obama — evidently heedless of that plan’s failure to spur economic growth — is changing up the acronym and pitching the whole idea all over again.

If approved by Congress, the new stimulus, which focuses primarily on redeveloping infrastructure, will amount to ARRA-lite. Introducing the plan Wednesday during a visit to St. Paul, Minn., Obama proposed a total of $302 billion in infrastructural projects over a four-year span. He also pitched a reload of a competitive grant program created during the ARRA era — code named TIGER — to further award development funds to State and municipal applicants.

TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) doled out $3.5 billion to handout-drunk States, cities and counties during ARRA’s original run.

Here’s a White House summary of what Obama’s proposing this time around:

$206 billion to invest in our nation’s highway system and road safety. The proposal will increase the amount of highway funds by 22 percent annually, for a total of about $199 billion over the four years. The proposal would also provide more than $7 billion to improve safety for all users of our highways and roads.

$72 billion to invest in transit systems and expand transportation options. The proposal increases average transit spending by nearly 70 percent annually, for a total program of $72 billion over four years, which will enable the expansion of new projects (e.g., light rail, street cars, bus rapid transit, etc.) in suburbs, fast-growing cities, small towns, and aging rural communities, while still maintaining existing transit systems.

$19 billion in dedicated funding for rail programs. The proposal also includes nearly $5 of billion annually for high performance and passenger rail programs with a focus on improving the connections between key regional city pairs and high traffic corridors throughout the country.

$9 billion in competitive funding to spur innovation. The proposal will make permanent and provide $5 billion over four years, an increase of more than 100 percent, for the highly successfully TIGER competitive grant program and propose $4 billion of competitively awarded funding over four years to incentivize innovation and local policy reforms to encourage better performance, productivity, and cost-effectiveness in our transportation systems.

How does this get paid for? Well, Obama says he can get us $150 billion closer to the total. But then, Congress, he’s all ears.

“The President is proposing one way to pay for this investment, by using $150 billion in one-time transition revenue from pro-growth business tax reform, but will work closely with Congress and listen to their ideas for how to achieve this important objective,” the White House release states.

Five years ago, the Obama Administration hyped the passage of ARRA by predicting it would lower unemployment to 5 percent — and virtually guaranteeing it would at least fall below 8 percent — by January 2013. But unemployment pretty much hovered between 8 percent and 9 percent throughout his first term in office. And only through a creatively deployed calculus that celebrates lower unemployment rates — even though they’re achieved by a mass exodus of laborers from the U.S. workforce — did unemployment hit the mid-6 percent range at the end of 2013.

Conscripted Benevolence: IRS Enforcing Obamacare’s Individual Mandate Under ‘Shared Responsibility’ Tax Payments

The Internal Revenue Service published an update to its tax-season guidelines Tuesday that makes it clear the agency will be taking an Obamacare penalty from Americans’ Federal tax returns in 2015 if they don’t demonstrate proof of coverage under an eligible health plan.

That the Administration of Barack Obama, already fully involved in selectively enforcing his signature accomplishment, is moving forward with the individual mandate isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s been following Obamacare’s á la carte implementation.

But the IRS’s language in delineating its Health Care Tax Tips this week bears a sinister, groupthink Orwellian tone. As Americans for Tax Reform observed Tuesday, the agency “employs [the] Orwellian term ‘Shared Responsibility Payment’ to describe [the] Obamacare individual mandate tax.”

President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service today quietly released a series of Obamacare “Health Care Tax Tips” warning Americans that they must obtain “qualifying” health insurance — as defined by the federal government — or face a “shared responsibility payment” when filing their tax returns in 2015. The term “shared responsibility payment” refers to the Obamacare individual mandate tax, one of at least seven tax hikes in the healthcare law that directly hit families making less than $250,000 per year.

…Once fully phased in, the Obamacare individual mandate tax will rise steeply, to a maximum of 2.5 percent of Adjusted Gross Income or $2,085 — whichever is higher.

Here’s how the IRS phrases its directions for reporting proof of coverage:

4. Your 2014 tax return will ask if you had insurance coverage or qualified for an exemption. If not, you may owe a shared responsibility payment when you file in 2015.

This admonishment to help share the cost of a healthcare subsidy for which we are all responsible is preceded by three other “tips” — two of which amount to an IRS-sponsored sales pitch for Obamacare:

There are a few basic tips to keep in mind about the new health care law. Health insurance choices you make now may affect the income tax return you file in 2015.

1. Most people already have qualified health insurance coverage and will not need to do anything more than maintain qualified coverage throughout 2014.

2. If you do not have health insurance through your job or a government plan, you can buy it through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

3. If you buy your insurance through the Marketplace, you may be eligible for an advance premium tax credit to lower your out-of-pocket monthly premiums.

Elsewhere, the IRS explains the “shared responsibility” payment more fully, assuring taxpayers that the agency will not confiscate more than $285 from most families who file in 2014 for the Obamacare subsidy pool (although a few wealthy stragglers with bad financial planning skills are, in theory, exposed to “sharing” even higher amounts).

If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:

  • 1 percent of your household income that is above the tax return threshold for your filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
  • Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.

The individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014. You will make the payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.

These tax tips apply to the 2014 calendar year, the first year the Obamacare penalty will be assessed. As noted earlier, anyone who’s not able to prove he’s covered will soon be forced to begin “sharing” much more than $285 a year — up to $2,085 per household or 2.5 percent of their adjusted income (whichever is higher) once the law is operating at full steam in 2016.

Democrats’ Obsession With A Hillary Clinton White House Signals Upside-Down Priorities

What is with Democrats’ far-gone fascination with Hillary Clinton? Is there some underlying compulsion to realize yet another “first” superlative in the linear pageant of progressive American statecraft? In a time when Americans have already demonstrated an electoral will to put a black man in the White House, is it really so revolutionary to put a woman there simply on the merit that she’s a “she”?

Another political poll out today seems to indicate Democrats’ appetite for meaningless paper milestones remains insatiable. A full 80 percent of Democrats indicate they want Hillary to run for President in 2016, while only 13 percent do not.

The New York Times/CBS poll shows that interest in a Clinton campaign far exceeds Democrats’ interest in other early-days candidates. Only about 40 percent say they want Vice President Joe Biden in the race. Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) is a distant third place at 22 percent.

Clinton’s record is shakier than Barack Obama’s was when he was a little-known Senator warming Oprah Winfrey’s guest couch. “She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train,” Camille Paglia, a true 1960s liberal and one of the Nation’s few remaining intellectual nonconformists with a public voice, wrote last summer:

And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts. I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying ‘I take responsibility’ for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. …As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, ‘What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?’ Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood.

Where are the rank-and-file Democrats who would heed that message? Right now, they’re too busy confusing exceptionalism and enfranchisement with merit.

California College Settles Lawsuit Alleging 1st Amendment Violation Of Student Who Handed Out Constitution Copies

In September, we wrote about how one college student’s civic-minded attempt to exercise his 1st Amendment guarantee of free speech backfired awfully at a California junior college. But after a lawsuit and several rounds of bad publicity, the college has backed down, agreeing to pay damages and promising to lift its restrictive “free speech zone” policy.

The settlement was a bargain for Modesto Junior College, which bought its way out of bigger potential legal and public relations headaches by agreeing to alter its unConstitutional campus policy and paying plaintiff Robert Van Tuinen $50,000 in damages.

In September, Van Tuinen ran into Administrative opposition when MJC officials learned he was handing out free copies of the U.S. Constitution outside of the designated “free speech” area of campus. This occurred on Sept. 17, the anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Constitution Day, a day of recognition established by Congress in 2004, falls on Sept. 17 each year, attended by mandatory (if lightly enforced) educational offerings from public schools and Federal agencies throughout the U.S.

After the college banned Van Tuinen from distributing the Constitution, telling him he needed a permit and could use only a delineated area of campus recognized as a free speech zone, he filed a lawsuit against the Yosemite Community College District and several MJC administrators, including college president Jill Stearns.

On Monday, the public school agreed to revisit its restrictive policy on free speech as part of its settlement with Van Tuinen. Key to the settlement was the college’s agreement to end its policy forcing students and faculty to obtain administrative permission to exercise their 1st Amendment rights throughout all “generally available” public spaces on campus.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) assisted Van Tuinen in the case; read FIRE’s statement responding to the settlement here.

Here’s the video that sparked the entire controversy last year:

Obamacare Will Force Higher Premiums On Majority Of Small-Business Employees

Another day, another government report that asks Americans to lower their expectations for Obamacare even further (if that’s possible). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a sub-agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, said late last week that Obamacare will increase health insurance premiums for about 11 million Americans employed by small businesses.

The CMS report — which the Administration of Barack Obama managed to delay well beyond its post-sequestration due date — notes that changes to the Public Health Service Act brought about by Obamacare will adversely affect some 11 million small-business employees, while reducing insurance premiums for 6 million. For the majority whose premiums will go up, their employers will also have to decide whether to absorb a proportion of the increased cost.

“There is considerable uncertainty as to whether small employers will decide to terminate their existing offer of health insurance coverage and send their employees to individual market Exchanges,” the report acknowledged.

CMS said its forecast numbers represent a best guess, but it nevertheless projected that those who will see premiums increase will outnumber those who see a decrease by a 65 percent to 35 percent margin:

Once the new premium rating requirements go into effect, it is anticipated that the small employers that offer health insurance coverage to their employees and their families would have average premium rates. Therefore, we are estimating that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions. The individuals and families that receive health insurance coverage from their small employer generally contribute a portion of the premium. For this analysis, if the employer premium increases, it is assumed that the employee contribution will rise as well. Similarly, if the employer premium is reduced, the  employee contribution is assumed to decrease. This results in roughly 11 million individuals whose premiums are estimated to be higher as a result of the ACA and about 6 million individuals who are estimated to have lower premiums.

The Daily Caller observed Monday that many of the small businesses whose owners will be faced with hard decisions about their healthcare offerings were supposedly reprieved from forced insurance changes this year by the Obama Administration’s unilateral decision to delay portions of the law’s employer mandate.

“The small businesses which CMS fears may begin cutting coverage altogether aren’t subject to the employer mandate requirement. After the latest Obamacare delay, even medium-sized businesses between 50 and 99 employees will have until 2016 to comply with the requirement to provide employees coverage, opening the possibility of more companies laying off employees so they can cut out increasingly expensive insurance coverage altogether,” wrote the DC’s Sarah Hurtubise.

In other words, the qualifying pool of Obamacare-eligible Americans is on track to grow larger, as small companies force their employees off of employer-backed insurance; while the pool of well-funded customers whose forced overpayments are supposed to subsidize the entire program will continue to shrivel.

Ted Cruz’ Name Carries Weight For Texas GOP Candidates, With Or Without His Formal Endorsement

Even though he isn’t up for reelection this year, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is finding his name widely circulated among Texas Republicans trying to find moral high ground in their ideological game of last man standing.

That’s true not only in the few instances in which he’s publicly endorsing candidates, but in the many instances when candidates invoke his idealism to illustrate that they hew to similarly uncompromising positions as Washington, D.C. iconoclasts.

From the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, here’s a list of instances in which politically aspirational Texans are calling on the name of Ted Cruz to cement their rapport with conservative voters:

• In the Senate District 10 race, Republican Konni Burton of Colleyville snagged one of the few endorsements Cruz has given. “She’s a tireless, unwavering warrior for the conservative cause. Konni is a fighter and will serve the people of Texas well. I urge voters in her district to support her,” Cruz has said.
• In the race for the 32nd Congressional District, which pits longtime U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas against Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson, the challenger’s website features a photo of Cruz and a quote from him: “Katrina Pierson is an utterly fearless principled conservative.”
• Four Republicans on the Texas Supreme Court who are seeking re-election — Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Jeff Brown, Jeff Boyd and Phil Johnson — picked up a joint endorsement from Cruz. “I wholeheartedly endorse all of them,” he posted on his Facebook page. “These justices are judicial conservatives, and we can depend on them to uphold the law.” Hecht is among those touting the endorsement on his website.
• State Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, is running for Texas Attorney General and his website features a photo of him standing next to Cruz with one comment from the senator: “Ken Paxton is a tireless conservative warrior.”
• Wayne Christian, a Republican seeking a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, has sent out campaign fliers featuring photos of Cruz with the question “Who stood with Ted Cruz?” and the answer “Wayne Christian stood with Ted Cruz when he was only polling 2%.”

Cruz is, of course, a polarizing public figure. Someone who’s earned as much respect from his political base also cultivates a concomitant measure of hatred from political adversaries. But Texas Republicans are betting that Cruz’ popularity in his home State will tip the balance in favor of conservatism – and electoral victory – when the last ballot has been counted in this year’s midterm elections.

Supreme Court Strikes Blow To 4th Amendment With Homeowner Consent Ruling

The Supreme Court ruled today that police, without a warrant, may legally enter and search a dwelling even over the vehement protestations of an occupant, so long as a co-occupant grants them access.

That decision reverses a 2006 ruling, which held that the refusal of even one occupant to allow a warrantless search was sufficient to keep law enforcement from entering a home.

Today’s ruling in Fernandez v. California was handed down in a 6-3 opinion, led by Justice Samuel Alito writing for the majority. The case involved an LAPD search of a house they believed harbored a robbery suspect. The suspect, Walter Fernandez, wouldn’t let them inside the house. But the police argued that Fernandez’ girlfriend, Roxanne Rojas, looked sketchy enough to suggest a probable cause for domestic violence – an unrelated charge. They went in and arrested Fernandez on the DV charge, removed him from the home, and in the meantime sought and got on-site permission from Rojas to search the home. That search produced evidence that tied Fernandez to the robbery – the reason the police had shown up in the first place.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito argued that Rojas’ permission carried equal weight (really, greater weight) with that of Fernandez’ denial:

A warrantless consent search is reasonable and thus consistent with the Fourth Amendment irrespective of the availability of a warrant… Denying someone in Rojas’ position the right to allow the police to enter her home would also show disrespect for her independence.

Compare Alito’s words with those of retired Justice David Souter, who wrote the majority opinion for a similar case – with a very different outcome – in November of 2006:

The pragmatic decision to accept the simplicity of this line is, moreover, supported by the substantial number of instances in which suspects who are asked for permission to search actually consent, albeit imprudently, a fact that undercuts any argument that the police should try to locate a suspected inhabitant because his denial of consent would be a foregone conclusion.

This case invites a straightforward application of the rule that a physically present inhabitant’s express refusal of consent to a police search is dispositive [that is, settled and absolute] as to him, regardless of the consent of a fellow occupant.

It appears evident that the police got their man, and no one is bemoaning a travesty of justice for a man whom evidence suggests had committed a crime. But today’s ruling is a back-door way into people’s homes – one without a guarantee that law enforcement will always be in the right. It invites the police to escalate impromptu searches by keeping them persistent at a dwelling until they get what they came for. It creates an invitation to law enforcement to find someone – anyone – living in a home whom they can convince to grant them access, after first being explicitly refused access by another occupant.

Whereas Souter and the majority found, in 2006, that one refusal was enough to force police to demonstrate probable cause to search a home, Alito has invited the police to go fishing for the most gullible or legally naive resident who might be found at the premises. All they need is a “yes” – any “yes.”

Americans View Obama As A Weak Diplomat Who Gets No Global Respect

President Barack Obama is, in the eyes of the majority of Americans, a President who is failing to earn respect from his global peers – even as Americans continue to believe the U.S. as a Nation commands international respect.

That’s the finding of a Gallup poll released Monday, which revealed 53 percent of Americans now view Obama as a man who isn’t respected by other world leaders. Only 41 percent believe the President does hold the esteem of foreign heads of state.

Those are the lowest polling numbers for Obama’s diplomatic prestige since he first took office. The President fell not only in the eyes of Republicans, but also of Democrats and Independents – in fact, the sinking numbers are primarily the result of his drop among Democrats and independents.

Last year, 80 percent of Democrats said Obama held the respect of global leaders. This year, that number is down to 69 percent. Only 19 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of independent voters said Obama is respected as a world leader this year – down from 21 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

Here’s more from Gallup:

Americans’ perceptions of how other nations view the U.S. have not changed in the past year, but their opinions of how world leaders view the president have. Now, Americans believe other world leaders generally do not respect Obama. This could be related to a series of tense moments in the past year between Obama and prominent foreign leaders, many of whom are close U.S. allies.

Americans themselves are not overly positive about the way the president is handling foreign affairs specifically, with 40% approving of his job in that area, one percentage point above his low last November.

The President still has a way to go before sinking to the lowest poll number ever, set by George W. Bush in 2007, when only 21 percent of Americans believed other leaders respected him.

Then again, Obama’s overall poll numbers have begun to bear a peculiar similarity to his predecessor’s.