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Morning Action: Let America’s Voice Be Heard

DEMOCRACY.  Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham explains how the government shutdown happening now demonstrates that Democracy is at work in America:

Conventional wisdom in Washington is that our nation’s government was shut down by a group of uncompromising tea party extremists. While this is demonstrably untrue – the House of Representatives has now compromised on its position twice while Senate Democrats have refused to budge an inch – it masks a more important debate. That debate is over what type of democracy we want to live in: A real one or one on auto-pilot.

Official Washington regularly casts scorn on the “brinksmanship” that has characterized our nation’s fiscal debates for the last three years. There has been brinksmanship in recent years, but it’s only offensive if you wish to place our nation on perpetual cruise control.

Government on auto-pilot suppresses public opinion. It means Congress gets to tinker around the edges, but has few opportunities to change course. It is a radical change to our democracy, and fortunately not the nation we live in.

Read his entire op-ed here.

GREEN ENERGY.  The WFB reports that a government green energy program paid more than $6.6 million in questionable reimbursements to project recipients who were using the funds for inappropriate purposes:

A government green energy program paid more than $6.6 million in questionable reimbursements to project recipients who violated conflict of interest rules and improperly expensed meal and alcohol purchases, according to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) inspector general.

A Sept. 27 audit of the DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells program questioned $6,638,409 in reimbursements through the program, which supports research and projects to promote alternative energy like fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen buses.

The program, which has spent more than $1 billion over the past 5 years, is designed to “promote the widespread use of hydrogen and fuel cells, the stated purpose being to help build a competitive, secure and sustainable clean energy economy.”

The IG reviewed 10 project recipients, finding nine had potentially unallowable costs.

LOSING COVERAGE.   The Fairfax County Water Authority will likely drop insurance coverage for nearly 400 employees because of Obamacare taxes that would cost them tens of thousands of dollars:

The Fairfax County Water Authority said that it will likely drop insurance coverage for its nearly 400 employees if taxes on generous health-care plans take effect as planned in 2018 under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The public utility, a quasi-governmental entity that provides water to 1.7 million Northern Virginians, said that the tax would eventually cost it millions of dollars a year.

Under the ACA employers that provide relatively expensive coverage will have to pay taxes to the federal government starting in 2018. Those taxes would cost the authority $60,000 in the first year and shoot up to nearly $7 million a year by 2028, the authority said in a letter sent this week to Virginia’s congressional delegation.

HARRY REID.  A dialogue between CNN reporter Dana Bash and Sen. Harry Reid Wednesday indicated how wedded Reid is to the idea of salvaging the failed Affordable Care Act – so much so that he refuses to fund certain aspects of the federal government like the NIH, which would help children with cancer:

BASH: But if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?

REID: Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own. This is — to have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing maybe means you’re irresponsible and reckless –

BASH: I’m just asking a question.

EXCHANGE GLITCHES.  Numerous stories continue to pile up about the Obamacare exchange glitches – here, here, here, here, and here, for example.  The Heritage Foundation explains the serious threats to privacy the Obamacare exchanges cause, and all the glitches are not exactly assuaging America’s fears about Obamacare:

Just a few weeks ago, Members of Congress and several experts challenged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for not examining critical security designs or fully vetting the integrity of the HHS hub that connects the exchanges with various government agencies such as the IRS and Social Security Administration. They asked how the hub could be allowed to open if basic security tests and assessments were not completed and reviewed.

Ultimately, the HHS inspector general could do little more than say, “We’ve got to cut off our work at a certain point”—even if that point leaves the hub vulnerable to cyber attack.

While the hub does not directly store information, it connects to other government databases that contain sensitive financial, medical, and other personal records. If the hub were compromised by a hacker, information regarding income, citizenship status, Social Security numbers, or other details could be ascertained and used to alter records or engage in identity theft.

JOBS.  Obamacare means higher costs and fewer jobs, according to a new report by Mercer:

Costs Continue to Rise: Despite the moderating effects of the recession in dampening consumer demand, “employers expect health benefit cost per employee will rise by 4.8 percent on average in 2014.” Recall that then-Senator Obama promised in 2008 that his health plan would lower health costs by an average of $2,500 per family.

Obamacare Will Raise Costs by at Least 2 Percent for Majority of Firms: “When asked to consider the impact of higher enrollment and new [Obamacare] fees…about half of the employers surveyed say they will spend at least 2% more on health benefits in 2014 – over and above the normal increase in cost. Another third are unable to predict. Only about a fifth of employers are confident that [Obamacare] will have little or no impact on spending in 2014.” The Mercer consultants also pointed out that Obamacare could impose additional costs on businesses once the delayed employer mandate takes effect in 2015.

More Workers Will See Their Hours Cut: “Some employers will minimize the number of newly eligible employees by cutting back on hours for at least a portion of their workforce – 11% of all large employers say they will do so.”

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