Morning Action: Obama and the Left Desperate to Make Obamacare Work
OBAMACARE. In an effort to fix a bad law, lawmakers created a bill aimed at shifting funds from one part of Obamacare, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, to a the high-risk insurance pool. Fortunately, this bill was defeated, thanks largely to conservative pressure. However, the bill may yet return (sub. req’d):
The measure would take about $3.6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to extend enrollment in the high-risk pools, which are now closed to new enrollees.
The Obama administration announced in February that it would stop enrollment in the high-risk insurance pools, which were meant to serve as a transition to 2014, when people will be able to buy insurance through the state exchanges created by the law.
What truly needs to happen, however, is for this totally unworkable law to be repealed.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD. While Congress works futilely from their end to make Obamacare work, President Obama became the first sitting president to address abortion giant Planned Parenthood. He asked for their help to spread the word about Obamacare. They would be compensated handsomely in taxpayer dollars for doing so:
The President lauded the organization’s efforts in helping pass Obamacare, particularly the preventative services mandate that is currently trampling on many employers’ fundamental freedom by forcing them to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception in their health plans.
Now, with that coercive mandate and countless other rules set to fully take effect over the next few months, President Obama requested Planned Parenthood’s assistance in implementing the new health care law.
The President’s call for assistance comes after rumors that Planned Parenthood representatives could act as “navigators” under the new health care law. A proposed rule released by the Administration earlier this month outlined “navigators” role in informing individuals about their options under Obamacare and guiding consumers’ entry into state and federal insurance exchanges. The same proposal suggested these Obamacare “navigators” receive anywhere from $20 to $48 per hour in taxpayer-funded compensation.
The President vowed his support for Planned Parenthood, and was conspicuously silent about the Gosnell trial; but he did take time to bash the work of pro-life conservatives.
SEQUESTER. Lawmakers view the Senate’s solution to the sequester cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may be the beginning of a trend (sub. req’d):
The overwhelming House approval on Friday of a bipartisan patch to reverse furloughs of air traffic controllers has opened the door to new efforts to ease the pain of the sequester.
The question for lawmakers will be whether to seek a broad solution to replace the current across-the-board terms of the sequester cuts or take up stand-alone measures on particularly painful reductions.
“You may see a lot more of this in the future,” said Republican Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. McCaul said he already has his eye on other agencies that could be targets for similar legislation, including the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection and the Secret Service.
“The door is wide open the next time there’s a crisis,” said another senior House Republican.
However, as the Heritage Foundation’s Emily Goff explains, Congress should have been setting spending priorities all along:
As “Sequest-air”—the political fight over the flight delays caused by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) decision to furlough air traffic controllers—gained momentum yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that would do exactly what Congress and the Administration should have done all along: cut spending but prioritize where the cuts should occur.
Thankfully for taxpayers and air travelers alike, the Senate—and the House, which passed its own version (H.R. 1765) of the legislation today—has shown leadership by setting spending priorities.
What Congress should avoid, however, is legislation that would increase spending—however small—over the traditional 10-year budget window.
[T]he Senate bill is a good step toward making good on necessary budget cuts—but doing it in a more targeted, responsible way.
IMMIGRATION. Though most people agree that securing the border is essential to reforming our broken immigration system, the Senate immigration bill fails to do so. Heritage explains:
The number one flaw of the bill is it starts by giving amnesty to the unlawfully present population in the United States. As soon as the bill passes, those in the country contrary to U.S. immigration law are granted status to stay.
Amnesty immediately creates an incentive for illegal border crossings and overstays. Thus, the bill’s strategy would drive up the cost of securing the border. To make matters worse, the draft law states that anyone who was present in the U.S. before 2012 qualifies—creating massive opportunity for fraud, since there is no proof required that applicants have been here for several years.
While supporters of the bill trumpet its “border security” features, in reality, the law delivers nothing new—other than the promise of spending a lot more money and running up our debt.
Supporters of the bill trumpet requirements to “certify” border security, yet its standards are in some ways weaker than existing law. Present law requires gaining “operational control” of the whole border, while this bill sets standards only for “high-risk” sectors. Since smuggling trails shift to where the security is not, even if the standards were attained in one area, the traffic would just go somewhere else.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has been trying unsuccessfully to define credible metrics for border security since 2004. Even if it had effective “triggers,” that does not guarantee a secure border. Border crossing conditions constantly change. Even if the goal is achieved, there is no guarantee it will stay that way.
BUDGET. Republicans in Congress may shy away from entitlement reform to instead focus on rewriting the U.S. tax code during the upcoming summer battle over the debt:
Reining in spending on Social Security and Medicare remains an important policy goal for the GOP. But House leaders launched a series of meetings last week aimed at convincing rank-and-file lawmakers that tax reform is both wise policy and good politics and should be their top priority heading into talks with Democrats over the need to raise the federal debt limit.
The move comes weeks after President Obama responded to Republican demands to cut expensive federal retirement benefits by offering to shrink Social Security cost-of-living adjustments and raise Medicare premiums. The proposals, included in the president’s budget request, outraged seniors, and some Republicans fear that embracing them would be political suicide.
There is no such ambivalence, however, about simplifying the tax code and lowering the top rate, which jumped from 35 percent to 39.6 percent as part of a year-end budget deal that still rankles Republicans.
Even this issue, however, causes dissension:
Democrats argue [that] tax reform doesn’t meet the requirements that Republicans have set for supporting an increase in the debt limit.
Such an agreement, however, would require Republicans and Democrats to resolve the long-standing dispute over whether tax reform should generate fresh tax revenue to reduce deficits or whether it should lower tax rates.